This message was presented on May 18, 2014 as part of the 1 Timothy series.
Tom and Sue were believers, both 39 and deeply involved at church. Tom worked for Allison Transmission and Sue was a nurse down at Community South. Tom had jumped into serving on the Connection Team and Sue in the Welcome Ministry as well as serve as a deaconess. They attend the Soaring Eagle Fellowship Group and their 15 year old son Danny and 13 year old daughter Millie like the youth group studies and activities, especially the paint ball!
Peter and Mildred, who were both 61, also attend the Soaring Eagles FG and they are studying the book of Luke. Peter studied quite a bit at home and was often outspoken. Mildred was a deaconess and helped out on the church visitation team.
One difficult week at Allison, Tom was dealing with many Human Resource issues. He had to meet with a person who, on work time, was looking at too many personal emails and internet sites. Tom was also told that the project he invested a great deal of time in wasn’t accepted and he’d have to start over in a new department the next month. He was getting tired of all the changes at work. Tom and Sue had good kids, Danny and Millie, but they brought home from school a lot of questions and pressures from their peers. While they liked youth group, at home they often struggled doing what their parents told them. Did I say the family was having a difficult week?
One Sunday at church, Peter was really engaged in the Luke class and he questioned the teacher quite a few times. Tom had had enough. He thought to himself “Why does Peter have to be rude and make an issue of everything?” He continued thinking, “Why does he monopolize the class time?” Finally, Tom blurted out, rebuking Peter in front of class, “Peter, why do you have to be so rude and monopolize the class time?” Tom felt good he had said something, but the class was stunned. How should Tom have handled Peter?
As we begin 1 Timothy chapter 5, let’s remind ourselves of the purpose Timothy wrote. He wrote in 1 Timothy 3:15,
15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Tim. 3:15 NKJ)
The church is the house or family of God. The local church is a family with brothers and sisters. Church should be a taste of heaven, but something often prevents that from happening. Do you know what Scripture says?
Here’s the question for this passage: How do you treat people at church?
1) Honor others because they are Jesus’ family 5:1-2
You may have not had a great family. There are many in here who had fathers who abused them growing up. That is a travesty. There are many others who had no dad at all and family fights were common. So it may be difficult for some to understand how to relate with each other.
Paul deals with the Scriptural guideline for how to treat others. He addresses four categories of people. Remember, Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12, “Let no one despise your youth.” Why did Paul say that? Because there were plenty of older people looking down on Timothy’s age and lack of experience. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 5:1,
Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger as sisters, with all purity. (1Ti 5:1-2 NKJ)
The phrase “older man” is used for age or the office of elder. But Paul is going to deal with elders beginning in verse 17, so this is referring to older men in general. Older men will sin and have blind spots, so when they sin, they need to be admonished and exhorted to holiness. Timothy had so much opposition from older men, he couldn’t see straight on the opportunity God had put before him.
Paul describes what an older man is supposed to be in Titus. He wrote,
But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience. (Tit. 2:1-2 NKJ)
As a man, am I growing in these ways? Am I patient, reverent and sensible? Older men are not perfect and may need correction. Kenneth Wuest describes the word means “don’t chastise with words, treat harshly, or strike upon.” Paul says, “Do not rebuke, but exhort AS a father. This is a term of endearment. It means to come alongside privately and pay him respect and honor as is due to a father. Let’s say the old man is grumbling about the teacher outside of class. Scripture says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” (Phil. 2:14) All things? How do you then exhort someone so you don’t grumble or dispute with them?
Let’s first understand God’s attitude toward how to treat a father. Moses wrote in Exodus a portion of the Mosaic Law. Let’s notice the context beginning in Exodus 21:12-17.
12 “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. 13 “However, if he did not lie in wait, but God delivered him into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee. 14 “But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die. 15 “And he who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. 16 “He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death. 17 “And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. (Ex. 21:12-17 NKJ)
In verse 12 one man hits another man and as a result the man dies. God says the striker must die. However, in verse 13, if it was an accident and the Lord allowed the victim to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and he is struck and dies, then the perpetrator can flee to a city of refuge and hold onto the horns of the altar. He was safe in the city until the high priest died when he was free to leave. But, verse 14 states that if it was known he was talking about killing another person, he bought a special knife and he had a plan, then even if he ran to the city of refuge, the authorities were to get him and execute him for the sake of the holiness of God and the purity of the community.
Verse 15 describes how a son is to relate with his parents. If he hits his parent he is to be put to death. Wow! That seems severe! If he only hit his parent, why does he have to die? It’s very simple. The parent is in the position of God. We’re not talking about a two-year-old, but one who has thought through this and struck the parent. It is like a person striking against God. Remove him. God takes it one step further in verse 17. If the child curses his parent, he shall be put to death. What? If the child says, “I wish you were dead!” Or he said, “I wish you’d go to hades.” That is like blasphemy, because the parent is in the position of God.
By the way, what is the first word in the 5th commandment? Honor. Honor your father and mother. God wants us to honor older men as we would our own father.
If your father was grumbling in your fellowship group and making rude comments, you wouldn’t just let him continue talking like that, you’d go to him privately and very humbly seek to help him see what he doesn’t see.
The Paul said, “Younger men as brothers.” He was really saying, “Do not rebuke a younger man, but exhort him as a brother.” Don’t cut him down. Love him as your brother; treat him as a best friend. Would you let a best friend get into drugs? No, but you would not make an issue of his sin in front of others. You’d go privately to him and humbly help him see what he doesn’t see. It’s like one who sticks closer than a brother (Pr. 18:24).
Paul added, “Older women as mothers.” What he could have said, “Do not rebuke an older women, but exhort her as a mother.” Love her and listen to her. Treat her with honor, even when she is wrong. Solomon wrote, “My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother. (Pro. 1:8 NKJ) He also said, “My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother.” (Pro. 6:20 NKJ)
Finally Paul wrote, “Younger [women] as sisters.” He could have written, “Do not rebuke younger women, but exhort them as sisters.” Don’t cut her down. When she sins, come alongside of her and help her see what she doesn’t see and do it as you would your own sister. Now if you have a terrible relationship with your sister, you might have difficulty with this, like any of the others. But God recorded this in a way that you will compare this with Scripture and not experience. Honor all your relationships as if the person was blood. You are related by the blood of Jesus in purity.
The next major category is dealing with widows. They were a problem in the church, because they were going from house to house spreading gossip and complaints. But there were also problems because people were complaining that some widows were cared for and some not.
2) Honor widows as if you are in Jesus’ position 5:3
Thirty years after the problems in Acts 6, the church was still dealing with support to widows. There was no social security or retirement homes paid for by the Roman Empire. Any support came through the church. After all, not everyone in “need” is in need. There were church arguments about who would be supported and who not. What should the church do?
3 Honor widows who are really widows. (1 Tim. 5:3 NKJ)
The word “honor” [pav timao-] means to revere, properly appreciate the value of and pay respect. Some translations translate this, “widows indeed.” We would include Anna in this category from Luke 2:36-37. Dorcas from Acts 9 would likely be included. I had a great friend while I was in seminary and her name was Mrs. Buck. She approached me one Sunday and said, “I’d like to help you in seminary.” I was thinking, which paper could I get her to write?! She said, “How can I pray for you?” I was working on my thesis, so every Sunday I wrote on a 3×5 card what I was writing about and what my requests were. You would not believe how well that five weeks went. The words and chapters just flowed through my hands into that Kaypro 2 computer! We’ll see next week more specifics on just who should be supported and who is not supported. But let’s notice what Paul wrote regarding family responsibility.
3) Disciple families to care for Jesus’ family 5:4-8
4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God. (1 Tim. 5:4 NKJ)
Let the children show piety, which means “godliness” to mother and grandma. Who trains children to do that? Dads and grandpas! Then Paul wrote, “Repay their parents,” which does not mean write out a check, but rather take care of them. The care for people falls on the family, not the church and not the state. In verse five, Paul began to define what he meant a real widow was.
5 Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. (1 Tim. 5:5 NKJ)
There are three things here that Paul identified. First, she was “left alone.” That meant that she was absolutely bereaved. Secondly, she trusted God. Now anyone can say they trust God, but Paul meant that she was to show her trust by her actions. Kenneth Wuest said her hope had become permanently fixed as a settled and immovable trust. And thirdly, she made prayers night and day – by night and by day. Grammatically, it is written that she actually prayed during the day and during the night. In verse six Paul described what the real widow was not.
6 But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. (1 Tim. 5:6 NKJ)
Paul described this widow who enjoyed self indulgent wanton pleasure. Further, he wrote that spiritually she was operationally dead, while living. She was still a believer, but she was missing out on rewards, power and joy. She did not deserve support. There are consequences to bad choices and lack of choices. That is why it is important to live a holy life all through life, because you may be left alone and you might need the church.
Your first obligation is to your spouse, then children, and then also to parents and grandma. You might say, “I want to help my parents, so I might send my child to IUPUI instead of Stanford. Or maybe I’ll send him to IVY Tech, instead of an Ivy League.” Or maybe because you are already supporting mom, you encourage your child to work his way through college.
You won’t be able to spend your time as you might want. In fact, it WILL slow you down. But, would it be good for the kingdom? Would it honor the Lord?
Then you have to consider, “What if she squanders what you provide?” Or “What if she continues to live in sin? Like drunkenness, drugs, theft, gambling? To what extent? Now, we’ve just scratched the surface and we would need much discussion looking into and studying God’s Word to know how to apply this in every situation. Paul added,
7 And these things command, that they may be blameless. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Tim. 5:7-8 NKJ)
The issue is they and we must be blameless. God wants His people to be holy and be family. That would mean there would be no contentions. We talk when we misunderstand or don’t agree. Is this just an isolated issue in Timothy’s church?
That’s what happened in the first problems of the church. Notice what was going on in the first real problem,
Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. (Acts 6:1 NKJ)
The church was growing and multiplying, so God allowed this test of complaints to arise. Would they pass the test? Sometimes the contention will be over doctrine as it did in Antioch.
And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question. (Acts 15:1-2 NKJ)
There was a big argument, so they took the issue to the leadership to resolve the problem. And the problems continued, because in every letter Paul wrote, he addressed problems in the churches. For example, in his letters to Corinth he addressed problems. Who was he writing to?
2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: (1 Cor. 1:2 NKJ)
Then Paul added,
10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 1:10-12 NKJ)
Imagine, believers who were so divisive and contentious. And then at the end of Paul’s second letter that we have to Corinth, Paul wrote,
19 Again, do you think that we excuse ourselves to you? We speak before God in Christ. But we do all things, beloved, for your edification. 20 For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; 21 lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced. (2 Cor. 12:19-21 NKJ)
Imagine all these sinful relationships going on among believers! But then you consider the bickering Paul dealt with in Philippians and contentious legalisms in Galatians and even asking Philemon to receive back Onesimus who stole from him. What is a church supposed to do?
You have on your insert an acrostic “PAUSE.” That is a biblical way to approach any contentious relationship.
Prepare for the conversation Pro. 14:8 Make sure your sins are confessed and you are looking for a way to edify the other person.
Affirm the person and relationship John 13:34-35 That is just simple love for the person. You affirm, because you want the person to know you are approaching for the good of the person and the relationship. You are not approaching to judge or as an enemy. You establish credibility and hopefully help the person trust you.
Understand their interests Phil. 2:1-4 You want to think more highly of the other person to understand his interests, his motives and what he is trying to accomplish. If you go into a conversation with an agenda, you’ll never get anything God wants.
Seek creative solutions Pro. 14:8 These are creative solutions that prosper the kingdom, not you. What are mutually beneficial solutions that bless the other person and demonstrate the love of Jesus to others.
Evaluate and adjust Dan. 1:11-16 Just because you came up with one set of solutions, doesn’t mean that is binding. Too many foolish Christians think because they prayed, they have God’s best. You may have to adjust what you have because, even though both of you want the best, you may see a better solution after a week or a month. Here’s the key:
Jesus is holy and pure!
Treat those in Church like Jesus’ family!
- No one is perfect. We need to come alongside and help others become more holy. Is. 1:18; 1:15-18; 1 John 3:16-18. Does the church understand humble compassion alongside of holiness?
- Approach others with humble help rather than ready rebuke Gal. 6:1-5
Okay, so how should Tom have dealt with Peter? He should have asked Peter to get together soon after the incident, but maybe not right away. He’ll prepare for the conversation they might have and even jot down some ideas. Then when they get together alone in a private place (NEVER rebuke a person in public or in front of others, unless it is an emergency and failure to do so would cost a life! There is an exception we’ll cover in two weeks)), affirm Peter about how good of a student he is and what good questions he often has and how his family is very involved in the church and how you’re glad you go to the same church, etc. (This is not hypocrisy, because you say what is true!) Then understand his interests and motives. Tom could ask, “Peter, what are some highlights of what you are getting out of our Luke study?” Or, “Peter, what are some nuggets that you have been digging out of Luke in your personal study?” Or, “Peter, where do you hope we will go in our study at church?” Tom should seek to understand where and what Peter’s motives and interests are, like, “Peter, I noticed you asked several questions in class, what were you trying to understand?” Then seek solutions as far as Peter was monopolizing the class time or being rude. This is often a hard transition. Tom could say, “Peter, how do you think your questions affect Billy the teacher or the others in the class?” Or, “I wonder if you should wait for others to ask questions after you’ve asked four questions to give others an opportunity to participate and grow through discussion. And finally, Tom should say, “Peter, let’s get together in a couple weeks, because I’d like to keep learning from you and seek to join you in studying Luke.” That would be the time to evaluate how things are going.
If we follow Scripture, church will be a taste of heaven.
Message Based Discussion Question
1) When you think of the word father or mother, what do you think about? Is it a good image?
2) Is God called “Father” in Scripture? ______________ What does Scripture teach regarding God the Father (cf. Luke 15:12-28; John 5:17-26; 14:6-28)? Does it reflect what you see in earthly fathers?
3) Does Scripture honor older women? __________ How does it honor widows? (cf. Deut. 10:18; 14:29; 24:17-21; Is. 1:17; Acts 6:1-7; James 1:27)? Do we?
4) Is discipleship important in a family? _____________ How does God teach we should disciple family (cf. Deut. 6:1-9)? What does it look like?
Making application from the message to life:
5) If Christians are brothers and sisters before one Father, what is one of our purposes (cf. Eph. 2:18-22; 1 Pet. 2:4-5)?
6) What should we do as a church to help people treat church like family? How could that be more evident to the world around us?
7) Is there someone in the Body at Grace that you might need to restore a relationship because of previous misunderstanding?