Title: The Treatment of Members: Confronting & Caring
Text: 1 Timothy 5:1-2
Introduction: 1 Timothy 5.1-2; Titus 2.1-8; Question: type the answer if you remember – What is our purpose as outlined from our WEBS.
Sometimes I think the whole Christian world is made up of just two groups: those who speak their faith and accomplish significant things for God, and those who criticize and malign the first group.
Don Basham, “On the Tip of My Tongue,”
Today I might sound critical of you… that isn’t my intention. I wish to be a part of the first group here – those who are a part of the solution…
You’ll note from the title of today’s message that the issue today is all about relationships. I have to say that I love it when the topic is relationships. I’ll reiterate what I’ve said so many times: nothing is more important in the church than relationships. If you want to know more, see me after the service. I’m serious…
Relationships are hard. Period. Some are harder than others, but it is what it is: hard! That is why they are so important. They’re important in evangelism, in discipleship, in worship, in prayer, in fellowship and the list goes on. Relationships permeate every aspect of the church. So, we need to get this right.
Think about our Purpose as a body as outlined from Wednesday Night: Imaging God. Our purpose isn’t just to worship. Our purpose isn’t evangelism. Our purpose isn’t discipleship. Yes, we ‘do’ all of these; but our purpose is to Glorify God. There is no commandment greater than Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. So, the question is, then, “what do we do when we haven’t been imaging God correctly?” We don’t like this part of relationships but confronting members who are not imaging God correctly is our task.
And, this is what I love about Paul’s letter. He’s saying to Timothy, Do the work of confronting, but do it in love! Let your first thought be love. Again, it comes back to relationships!
Opening Illustration: Joshua Harris
The Evangelical World has been rocked in the last few years with defectors from the faith. This past year saw Joshua Harris and Marty Sampson, two very high-profile evangelicals announce that they are no longer Christians. Harris announced that he was both divorcing his wife and renouncing his faith.
Joshua Harris: You probably remember Joshua Harris from his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Before those two very big announcements, he made some statements in an interview where he simply said he was having trouble reconciling his theology with his life experience.
I think that there’s a push by some people to say being sex-positive means — the kind of the historical sexual ethic related to sex outside of marriage, related to homosexuality, is basically laid aside, and embracing a healthy view of sex means just accepting all that as fine within the Christian tradition. … I do think though that, for me, in that change of interpretation of such a fundamental level when it comes to sexuality, it’s just hard for me to … In a way, it’s almost easier for me to contemplate throwing out all of Christianity than it is to keeping Christianity and adapting it in these different ways.
This is refreshing in the respect that he can’t reconcile what the world teaches and what the Bible teaches. The problem with liberal theology is that it can’t reconcile both either. Their stance is to just throw out those portions of Scripture. But Harris doesn’t do that. He fully acknowledges that the Bible teaches something contrary to what the world teaches. There is more, and it comes out on Social Media. Using either Instagram or his twitter account, He stated that he isn’t a Christian. He said that based on his definition of what a Christian is, he isn’t. Others have encouraged him to move to a more liberal movement in observing the faith, but he has declared that he isn’t there yet.
Here’s the problem with a false gospel being preached from the pulpits – it creates a bunch of false followers who are in the game for all the wrong reasons. When God doesn’t do what the preachers have promised, then there is frustration and anger (and, I suppose, a step-by-step process of all the stages Kübler-Ross outlined) and eventually, a falling away. This is called a ‘transactional view’ of God. If I do such and such, God will reward me with such and such.
To be honest, my heart hurts for these men and others like them who have left devastated followers in their wake. They preach a gospel of success and happiness that comes through legalism. They don’t call it that, but that is what they promise. Don’t date anymore. Instead of dating, court your future spouse and God will give you the blessings of a wonderful marriage. Joshua lived that out and it failed him. So, he gave up on God. God let him down as he sees it. God didn’t keep his end of the bargain.
Hear what I’m saying: court, date, get married through an arranged marriage. It doesn’t matter which one you choose. In any of those cases, relationships are still hard! Do any of the following and your marriage might end. Do any of the following and your kids might still get sick – they might still die. Any message from a preacher who declares that if you’ll do this then God will do that – is a false doctrine.
Michael and Lisa Gungor are two more folks who experienced the same thing. They did what they thought they were supposed to do. According to her YouTube video, they dated and waited. But when they had a child with down syndrome, doubt began to creep in. They had done what they thought God wanted them to do, but then God didn’t keep his end of the bargain – transactional theology. They both now claim to be atheists.
Marty Sampson: Hillsong United Worship Leader. Oh, praise the name of the Lord our God. Oh, praise his name forevermore.
And, this is precisely what Paul has been warning Timothy about in our letter: don’t let false teachers present a false gospel. The damage they bring is destructive. Hear what I’m saying: court, date, get married through an arranged marriage. It doesn’t matter which one you choose. In any of those cases, relationships are still hard! I reiterate: Do any of the following and your marriage might end. Do any of the following and your kids might still get sick – they might still die. Any message from a preacher who declares that if you’ll do this then God will do that – is a false doctrine.
Look at 4.11-16 with me: 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Now, Paul outlined for Timothy to ‘Command and Teach’ these things: Personal godliness, Preaching the Word, Putting into Practice his giftedness, Diligence over his life and doctrine and focused persistence in keeping a watchful eye over it all.
But how do you command and teach these things? When confronting members, it can be harsh. How do you confront an older man? How do you confront an older woman? Or, brothers and sisters your own age or younger? How do you talk to widows without seeming to be mean or hurtful?
It’s hard! Let’s look at what Paul says to Timothy in 5.1f; rd v 1;
So, the first thing Paul mentions here is how to be direct with members.
- Confronting Members (1-2)
exp.: This word in Gk for do not rebuke appears nowhere else in the NT or LXX; epi – at or before; plēsō – to strike; to strike at; do not sharply rebuke; it’s a word picture; slapping someone with your words: don’t do it! We use this kind of language when someone says something and we reply: Oh, that hurt! Or That’s hitting below the belt!
Without referring to the OT Law, Paul is using his words like pictures to point them back to the Law.
Exodus 21.15 – 15 “Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death.
Leviticus 19.32 – 32 “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.
With a word, Paul points back to the Law and the requirement to honor and respect your parents. But there is more, disrespect brings condemnation.
Now, remember our context: False Teaching is infiltrating the church; for Timothy, being a teacher who brings strong, sound, healthy doctrine. Confront false teachers who bring false doctrine. Now, Timothy is charged with how to treat members – members of all ages. I think, because of the context, these are members who may very well be spreading the false teaching that they’re hearing.
*Boy, this has to be tough! You want to show honor and respect, but these older men need to be confronted!
Back in 4.12 – Don’t let them despise you because you’re young! Versus: Just because someone is older, doesn’t mean they’re biblical in their teaching! So, you Timothy, have to confront the destructive, false teaching. But how? Well, first, don’t strike at an older man with your words.
He continues, don’t strike with your words, but, instead exhort or encourage; He told Timothy how to do this back up in 4:13; Public Reading of Scripture…
Ill.: This is God’s Word – say that out loud where you are. Hold up your copy of God’s Word and acknowledge that this is God’s Manual for life. I think that is why some older folks don’t like it when people use their phones or their iPad’s, or Kindle. There is something beautiful in the representation of the leather and the paper and the ribbons.
Continuing on in 4.13: The public reading of Scripture, to exhortation (the same word here: encourage), to teaching.
So, Paul is saying, there is a way to confront without. Sure, there is some discomfort. But remember, the goal is to correct – and you can do that without being mean and hurtful. I wonder if sometimes we feel like its personal. I wonder if some of us respond as if someone’s false teaching is an affront to us.
Look back with me at 5.1: Do not rebuke (strike at) an older man but encourage him as you would a father. So, let’s delineate these:
- Confronting Older Men (v 1)
exp.: an older man; πρεσβύτερος (presbyteros); Elder; this is not the office, but referring to age; probably above 40; more like above 50; no doubt 60; ὡς; as or like, a father; Titus 2.1-2; But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. And what is sound doctrine? He continues in v.2 Older men are to be sober-minded (This means not under the influence), dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. What I find interesting here is that these are the same qualities of an Elder and a Deacon. We hold these men (elders and deacons) to a higher standard – and so we should. But, the standard is no lower for an older man in the church. It doesn’t mean that every man should be an elder or a deacon, but it does mean that every man should live up to the same standard.
Transition: look at the end of 5.1; but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers,
- Confronting Younger Men (v 1)
exp.: I’m supposing these are young men like Timothy; so, I consider these men his peers; as brothers; I think this comes out better and a bit clearer in Titus 2.6. In Titus, Paul follows a different order. You see there in 2.1-2 he speaks of older men; in 3-5 he speaks of older women and older women. Then in v6, he says: 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. That’s it, be self-controlled, but not really, because Titus is a young man, like Timothy, he says: 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. So, I think these are attributes for the younger men, too: self-controlled (wise minded); committed to good works (btw: the same words given to the women back in 1 Timothy 2. “Don’t let your outward beauty define who you are,” he said, “but be seen as beautiful by your good works.” 3rd, men of integrity (lit.: incorruptible), dignity, and sound speech. Really, no different than the requirements of all believers.
I think you approach your brother differently than you do your father, for sure. But correction must be made, and it must be done in love.
Transition: back in our text 1 Timothy, look at 5.2;
- Confronting Older Women (v 2)
exp.: an older woman; same as above; ὡς; as or like, just as you would confront your mom; I get this.
Ill.: Mama Madkins
Now, to think of correcting your mom has to be a weird feeling, right? Now, I’m only talking about doctrinal issues. But the feeling is the same, right?
Transition: Well, Paul gives Timothy one last group…
- Confronting Younger Women (v 2)
exp.: as sisters; Consider how men feel about the women in their life. We’re very protective of our women and girls. I’m not talking about just fathers and daughters. I’m talking about brothers caring for their sisters. That’s the feeling we should have here: we should be protective of them. Notice the phrase here Paul uses; in all purity; probably just with this last phrase; a 2nd reminder of the moral responsibility as a man of God; But so it should be for all men in the church.
app.: The Context is that for a pastor, don’t lash out at people; There is an appropriate way to handle problems we have with members; Timothy isn’t to Lord it over them just because he’s the pastor. But instead, he is to confront these brothers and sisters in Christ with respect and dignity and honor (5th commandment);
I don’t think this is just for a young pastor. We can be this way with each other. We should be, right? And, again, remember the context – false teaching has infiltrated the body. There are those in the church who are practicing and repeating this false doctrine. They have to be confronted and corrected. Otherwise, it can be disastrous for the church.
Consider the 4 people I’ve mentioned in my opening. Be praying for them – I feel pretty sure they would encourage those prayers. But, why would they leave the faith? Consider their theology? Consider their transactional view of God.
Do you remember the story of the rich young man who approached Jesus about inheriting eternal life? Mark 10.17-22;
18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ ” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.”
I wonder if this young man began to get excited. You see – at this stage of the conversation, it’s all very transactional. You do or don’t do these things and you can inherit eternal life. But Jesus doesn’t stop there. Mark continues: 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
For some reason, this hits the young man hard. 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. When it comes to following rules – he was good. But when it came to surrendering his soul to Christ – that was a different call altogether.
Many people think that following Christ is about the do’s and the don’ts, but really, it is all about the surrender. Surrendering yourself completely. When you have a false doctrine of a ‘transactional view’ of God – that he owes you anything because you’ve performed some sort of duty or you’ve kept all these laws since you were young – When you have that false doctrine as your view, you set yourself up for failure.
I came across this passage this week: Isaiah 46.8-11:
8 “Remember this and stand firm,
recall it to mind, you transgressors,
9 remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
10 declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
11 calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.
God is God alone. He owes no one. And like with Israel, He is at work accomplishing his purpose. All things are for his glory – not ours. He doesn’t have transactions with us to bring Him glory – and he sure doesn’t do it to glorify us. I’m reminded of Romans 11.33-36:
33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.