Tuesday, November 4, 2014

1 Timothy 5: Honoring the Elderly and Elders



1 Tim 5:1-5 Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father. Treat younger men like brothers, older women like mothers, younger women like sisters, in all purity.  Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. 

1 Tim 5:9-12 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith.

1 Tim 5:17-19 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages." Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.

A church where the elderly and widows are given due honor and respect is a powerful witness to the world where youthfulness is exalted and the elderly are generally seen as a liability to be "managed." In fact, Scripture consistently calls us to respect those who are older than us, beginning with the Fifth Commandment: "Honor your father and your mother." And this honor and respect is to be extended to all elderly--inside and also outside the church:

  • 1 Tim 5:1 Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father.
  • 1 Tim 5:3 Honor widows who are truly widows.
  • 1 Tim 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.

We honor older people by not rebuking them but encouraging them and also supporting them financially when they are in need, especially widows who have lost their husbands, the sole bread-winners. Respect and honor should be practical, not just in words.

In particular, Paul says that elders (not referring to the elderly) who "rule well"and "labor in preaching and teaching" are worthy of "double honor". In the context, "double honor" refers to financial remuneration: "For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages" (v.18). So, a church who pays their full-time pastors well shows they honor the work of these full-time ministers. On the contrary, a church that is calculating when it comes to paying their pastors demonstrate not financial prudence but lack of respect and honor for those who "labor in preaching and teaching".

If we keep this attitude of respect and honor in the church, we will be a powerful witness to the world that is undermined by disrespect and dishonor for weak and the economically less productive, especially those who are elderly: "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" (Lev 19:32).

Father, thank You that You require us to honor those who are elderly because You value everyone, young and old. Amen.

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