Read 1 Timothy 5:17-6:2
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m just not sure how to relate to that person”? Perhaps the person is a bit different . . . a little unusual . . . and you just don’t know how to interact with him or her. Maybe they’re just “normal,” but they are older or younger or in a position of authority over you.
I never realized until recently how much the New Testament letters instruct us as believers about how to relate to others. In fact, already in this first letter to Timothy, Paul has communicated how we should view and interact with those older, those younger, and with widows (5:1-16). In today’s reading, we’re given further instruction. This time it’s about how to relate to elders and employers.
Elders can be unusual. I’ll give you that. Being one, I know that I can be odd. Nevertheless, Paul outlines the following principles with regard to these spiritual leaders in the local church.
- They should be carefully selected (v. 22). They should only be commissioned to ministry after careful evaluation in light of such things as character evaluation. This is reflected in 1 Timothy 3:1-7.
- They should be honored (v. 17). Now, don’t go overboard here. An elder is not next to the incarnate Christ! Meanwhile, elders give of themselves to shepherd and to protect the flock of God. They are deserving of our respect.
- Depending on the situation, they should be compensated (vv. 17, 18). To be sure, there will be people like Paul who make tents and proclaim the gospel (1 Cor. 9). But the general principle is that those who give great amounts of time and energy to preaching and teaching should be paid.
- They are not perfect and should be corrected (vv. 19, 20). Out of respect, this should be done by two or three to avoid potentially basing it on one person’s inaccurate assessment.
How a person relates to an employer is also outlined here. Okay, the actual statement refers to how a slave should respect and honor his or her master. Thankfully, the closest parallel in our culture today is the employee / employer relationship. But if slaves were to honor masters in sometimes terribly unfavorable circumstances in the first century, shouldn’t we do the same today?
How does this impact how you will relate to elders and employers this week?