Take care of one another. Remember the forgotten virtues: honor, respect, dignity. These qualities every Christian should earn and deserve. These virtues are necessary if we are going to “let all things be done for edification.”
Paul wrote Timothy would know how to behave himself in the house of God (1 Tim. 3:15). In the third chapter of this practical letter, we learn how to care for one another emotionally and physically.
1 Timothy 5:1-2
Living the honorable life begins with the golden rule: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Having the courage to edify must be done respectfully. Remember God said, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye who are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1).
Practical respect begins with common relationships. Paul divided the relationships into two classes–men and women. Being respectful is a necessary building block for relationships. The lack of respect, which is so common today, serves as the beginning of the end of a decent culture and great congregations.
When we have the opportunity to build up men older than ourselves, we are to address them respectfully. Paul says, admonish him as your own father. When we have the opportunity to build up men younger than ourselves, we are to address them kindly. Paul says, admonish them as you would your own brother.
When we have the opportunity to build up women older than ourselves, we are to address them with the endearment which they deserve. Paul says, admonish them as you would your own mother. When we have opportunities to build up women younger than ourselves, we are to kind. Paul says we are to admonish them kindly. Paul says we are to admonish them as sisters, carefully, with all purity.
PEOPLE TO HONOR
1 Timothy 5:3-20
Honor to whom honor is due. The word “honor” used here to describe the “widows indeed” and the “elders who rule well” is a word which has to do with proper recognition. The word sometimes refers to payment which is due. So it is here with the widows who are “taken into the number” or “enrolled” (5:9).
The class of widows under consideration is one who is desolate and without the help of family (5:3-8); she is below 60 years old (5:9a); and she is of noble Christian character and known for great Christian service (5:9b-10). These individuals, who are destitute, are to be cared for by the church collectively. This does not mean that a younger person or married person or a person with a family would not at times need help. Paul’s requirements here refer to an individual who is desolate and continually cared for by the church collectively as in Acts 6.
Honor is most certainly due for those who serve as God’s elders in the local church. 1 Thessalonians 5:12 encourages us to “respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work” (ESV). So it is here, the elders who rule well should be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in word and doctrine (“preaching and teaching” ESV). The word “honor” is the same one which was used before with the widows. It can refer to receiving payment (especially as men labor as elders as their occupation), but since we are admonished to give them “double honor” it may refer here to respect for those who rule well. The social welfare programs provided by the government of many modern nations has kept or relieved the church from her responsibilities in many cases.
The respect which we are to have for God’s elders should lead us to treat their character and work with care. Paul reminds us “against an elder receive not an accusation except at the mouth of two or three witnesses” (5:19). This is because of the likelihood of personal attacks and power struggles from within the church. However, when an elder has been proven to “persist in sin”, then Timothy is commanded to “rebuke before all, that others may also fear” (5:20). This is to protect the office of the eldership, to protect the church’s reputation, and to promote the Christians’ evangelistic endeavors.
1 Timothy 5:21-25
Paul turns now from Timothy’s outward responsibilities in caring for others and reminds him to care for himself. Timothy is challenged to keep his position as a preacher pure from prejudice, partiality, and pressure from ungodly influences.
Timothy is also reminded to care for his own physical health. Although he was struggling with some illness, Timothy refused to take any wine mixed with water. It was the common practice in the ancient world to mix wine with water at a 1 to 10 ratio in order to keep the water pure. However, Timothy so desired to protect his character, influence, and abilities that he refused even to mix his water with a little wine. Let that be a warning to us as well since we live in an age which offers increased dangers from alcohol by its increased potency. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Prov. 20:1).
Timothy is also reminded to care for his work. Christian service is not always rewarded immediately. It took time for Paul to plant, Apollos to water, and God to give the increase. It takes time and patience for our service to bear fruit as well. Paul reminds Timothy to wait for the Lord to bless the work. The good work of some are manifest before hand; and they that are otherwise (delayed) cannot be hidden” (5:25)–the good works will eventually manifest themselves.
Jesus said all men will know you are my disciples because you love one another. The Jerusalem church earned a reputation of model Christianity because they cared for one another. There was not one who had a need which was not met (Acts 2:44-45). This wonderful and gracious love should be practiced by us because it is practiced by God. Let us love one another because God first loved us.