This morning we’re tackling a fairly large portion of Scripture – 27 verses in all. On average, we’ve usually been looking at about 8 verses on any given Sunday. So why such a huge portion today? The reason I decided to preach on all 27 verses is because all of these verses revolve around a single theme, although at first glance, you may not think so. Our sermon title for today is “Taking Care of the Family” because that’s exactly what Paul is telling us to in this passage today. Over the past month or so, we’ve been looking in 1 Timothy at our responsibilities as Christians – our “Call of Duty” if you will. And in these 27 verses, Paul lays out for Timothy and us, exactly what our responsibilities are towards others in our family – both our physical family and our spiritual family.
Now since we’ve already heard the whole passage once as read by our different readers, I won’t go through the whole thing again now. But I’ll try to hit some key verses and dig out four main lessons and then I’ll leave you to work through the rest this week at home.
And on that note, I want to encourage you to do exactly that. Don’t just listen to me on Sunday mornings – go home and do some studying for yourself. Because #1. I’m not perfect. I certainly try hard to understand the Scriptures and present Biblical truths to you accurately – but I’m still human and I make mistakes. So don’t just take my word for it, study it yourself. And #2. There are so many lessons to be learned from any given passage of Scripture – that I can’t possible cover everything on a Sunday morning. It is your responsibility to open up your Bible and see what God is saying to you.
So with that in mind, let’s begin by looking together at verses 1 & 2.
1Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, 2the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.
1 Timothy 5:1-2 (NAS)
So here’s our first lesson: We need to treat people like family – whether they are in our family or not. Whether they deserve it or not. And I think that’s the issue that Paul is touching on – treating people as family, even when they don’t deserve it. And here’s why I say that.
Notice the word “rebuke”. I looked up that word in the dictionary and under the word ‘rebuke’, it had these helpful little notes about choosing the right word. It said that ‘rebuke’ is part of a group of words that all kinda mean the same thing – they all express disapproval, but which word you use depends on how upset you are. So then it went on to explain which words to use when.
Now if you want to go easy on someone, you can admonish them. To admonish is to warn or counsel someone, usually because a duty has been forgotten. For example, you may need to admonish your children to finish their homework. So that’s the first level.
Now the next level is to reprimand. The word reprimand suggests a direct confrontation. So if it’s after supper and your child still hasn’t started his homework, it might be time for a reprimand.
The next level up is to scold. The notes in the dictionary say… “If you’re irritated enough to want to express your disapproval quite harshly and at some length, you can scold.” So if it’s 8:00 and still no homework done, perhaps a scold is in order.
Then finally, at the top of the list is the rebuke. The dictionary says of the rebuke…” Rebuke is the harshest word of this group, meaning to criticize sharply or sternly, often in the midst of some action.” So if, by 9:00 and you walk into your child’s room and they are playing xbox instead of doing their homework, that’s the time for the rebuke.
So with that understanding of the word ‘rebuke’, when Paul tells Timothy not to sharply rebuke an older man, you can assume that older man is probably doing something that he shouldn’t be doing and he probably deserves a rebuke.
But the Christian life isn’t about getting what we deserve, is it? It’s about grace and mercy. It’s about forgiveness and second-chances. And so Paul tells Timothy, don’t rebuke him sharply – but appeal to him as a father, and the young men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters.
The fact is, people do stupid things. We make mistakes. We sin. That just part of being a human. So let’s not blast each other every time we mess up. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t confront sin, because we should. We need to hold each other accountable, but the way we do it makes all the difference.
The Bible calls Satan “the accuser of our brethren” and in another place, “a roaring lion looking for someone to destroy”. But sometimes I think we Christians match those descriptions better than we’d like. How quick are we to accuse and criticize each other? And how slow are we to forgive and restore each other.
There is a saying that goes “Christians are the only army that shoot their wounded.”
May that not be true in our church. When people make mistakes – as we all do – let’s not be quick to criticize and sharply rebuke, but in gentleness and mercy, appeal to older men as fathers, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters. Let’s treat each other like family.
So that’s the first lesson we need to try to get into our brains. Treat each other like family. If we look at verses 3,4 & 8, I think we can find the second lesson.
3 Take care of any widow who has no one else to care for her. 4 But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God.
8 But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.
1 Timothy 5:3-4, & 8 (NLT)
So actually, there are kinda two lessons in here. Lesson 2 & Lesson 2½.
Lesson #2: According to the Bible, it is our responsibility as a church to take care of the widows in our community who have no one else to care for them.
Here’s Lesson #2½: It is your personal responsibility to take care of your parents and/or grandparents when they can no longer care for themselves.
Think about that for a minute. You’ll notice that the Bible makes no mention of any governments having the responsibility to care for the elderly or for widows. Because that’s not their job. The responsibility of caring for widows and the elderly falls on families. First of all, to our biological families – and then if there are no biological families to be found – then the responsibility goes to our spiritual families.
Now I have to be honest with you – when I started realizing the ramifications of what these verses were saying – I was a little surprised. I mean, I had read these verses before, but I had never really thought about what it meant in real life.
In the very same way my parents cared for me when I was a child, I have that same responsibility to care for them when they grow old. Now perhaps they won’t need my help financially or physically – they might be quite independent until the end of their lives here on earth. But whether they do or whether they don’t – it is my responsibility to make sure that they are taken care of. The Bible is very clear about that.
It is also clear that for widows who have no family to take care of them, then that responsibility falls to us – the church.
You might remember a couple of weeks ago, we talked about the role of deacons. Does anyone remember why that position was created in the first place? It was because certain widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the church appointed some men to be in charge of making sure these widows were taken care of. The church was taking on their responsibility to care for those who had no one else to care for them.
Let me ask you two pointed questions that I want you to think about this week:
Question 1). Are you neglecting to take care of your family?
Question 2). Are we as a church neglecting to take care of those in our community who have no family?
These are our responsibilities. It’s certainly no easy task – but none the less, we need to take care of our family.
So that’s lesson #2 (& 2½) – We need to take care of our family.
For lesson #3, we go to verses 17-21. (And don’t worry, we’ll go through these last two points fairly quickly and then we’ll be done.)
17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. 21 I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.
1 Timothy 5:17-21 (NIV)
Here’s the lesson: We need to take care of our family leaders.
Remember, the elders are the leaders of our church family. And just like we are instructed to “honor our [biological] father & mother” – so we are instructed to honor the heads of our spiritual family. We need to take care of them.
And I want to take this opportunity right now, as an elder to thank you for how you’ve already been doing that. It’s kinda funny that this message happens to fall on the same Sunday as our Pastor appreciation potluck. I didn’t plan that – it just happened that way. But I’d like to do a little congregation appreciation right now. And not just for the fact that you pay our salary (Although we certainly do appreciate that too!). But we’ve always felt “taken care of”. Let me give you just one recent example.
This week I got a call from a Pastor in Pincher Creek that I had never meet before in my life. But He had been a young pastor in a small rural church near Wetaskiwin about 15 years ago. So we talked for about 30 minutes about the challenges of being a young pastor in a small rural church and it was a very encouraging conversation for me to talk to someone who had been through very much the same challenges that we face here.
But I mention that because the only reason he called me up was because He was a family friend of someone here in the church. And they had asked him to call me up in case I needed someone to talk to who could relate to the challenges of pastoring a small rural church. So I’m very thankful to have people like that who are actively ‘taking care’ of me, by making sure I had someone I could talk to. And that’s just one example of how you folks have “taken care of us”. And we certainly appreciate it.
So that was Lesson #3: Take care of your family leaders. And now the final lesson. For that we turn to chapter six – verses 1 & 2.
All slaves should show full respect for their masters so they will not bring shame on the name of God and his teaching. 2 If the masters are believers, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. Those slaves should work all the harder because their efforts are helping other believers who are well loved.
Teach these things, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them.
1 Timothy 6:1-2 (NLT)
Now since the concept of slaves is a little foreign to our everyday language – let me replace the word slave with “employee” and the word master with ‘employer’ and we’ll see if you can wrap our brains around this a little better.
All employees should show full respect for their employers so they will not bring shame on the name of God and his teaching. 2 If the employers are believers, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. Those employees should work all the harder because their efforts are helping other believers who are well loved.
Teach these things, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them.
1 Timothy 6:1-2 (NLT paraphrased)
Does that click a little bit better? The theme that we’ve been looking at this morning has been taking care of our family – and maybe it’s a bit of a stretch to fit these verses in there, but I think it applies. After all, most of us spend just as much or even more time at work then we do with our actual families. So I think it’s quite applicable to say that we need to treat our employers (and our employees for that matter) like family.
It says in verse 1, we are to show them full respect as a positive testimony of our God and His teaching. If we show anything other than full respect, not only does it make us look bad, but it makes our God look bad too. You hear way too many stories of people who won’t hire Christians because of the bad experiences they’ve had with them in the past. That should not be. It should be the opposite. Christians should be the most sought after employees because of their work ethic and their good attitude. But too often, that’s not the case.
Verse two goes on to say that if our master (or employer) happens to be a Christian, then we should work that much harder for them. Strive to make them a success. Remember, if they are a Christian, they’re family. And as we’ve been talking about this morning, we need to take care of our family.
So let me ask you this: Think about the people that you’ve worked for over throughout the years. Did you work for them like they were family? If they knew you were a Christian, would they now intentionally look to hire other Christians because of your good testimony, or would they avoid hiring Christians?
Now I realize that we’ve covered a lot of material this morning, and if you remember only one thing that we’ve talked about, let it be this: We need to treat the people around us like family, because that is what God has done for us.
Even though we were rebellious, sinful human beings – God sent His Son to die on a cross in our place, so that we could be adopted as sons & daughters of the living God. To paraphase Romans 5:8, “While we were yet sinners, Christ treated us like family.” He loved us like sons and daughters.
So the challenge this morning is for us to do the same.
When people wrong us and do things to hurt us, let’s treat them like family – not with a harsh rebuke, but with love and forgiveness.
When we see people in need, like widows or orphans who have no one to care for them, let’s treat them like family and care for them and meet their needs.
And when God puts someone in a place of authority over us – be that in the church or in the secular workplace – lets treat them like family. Work hard for them and serve them well.
That’s our call of duty – that’s our responsibility as Christians. To treat others like family – just as God has done for us.