Paul wants to make sure he has covered the bases in terms of relationships within the church. It comes down to an attitude of respect that can also be applied to relationships outside the church family as well. Paul’s instruction to teach these things and encourage such behavior tells us of the importance of such practices. Paul was equipping Timothy to be a successful leader.
To maintain a thriving church, Paul starts by focusing on the elders and how they should be treated. “Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching.” Did you note the expectation that elders do their work well? I’m curious what being “paid well” meant in Paul’s day!
I’ve seen (and experienced) plenty of situations where church leadership was criticized for one thing or another. It’s impossible to make everyone happy all the time. I don’t think that’s what Paul is getting to here. But he does want to remind us that leaders should be respected and encouraged. It’s not easy to be the one in charge. What wise counsel to never decide against a leader from only one witness!
Elders have great responsibility. They are setting an example for those whom they lead. If they stumble, it’s out in the open for all to see and learn from. I can remember several times in ministry when we had to “reveal” the missteps of leaders so that others would understand and not make the same mistakes.
Was there anything surprising to you in today’s passage? Verse 23 jumped out to me, and I’m not sure how it fits in here. “Don’t drink only water. You ought to drink a little wine for the sake of your stomach because you are sick so often.” Where did that come from? Was it something personal that only Timothy would understand?
To get healthy, I’ve been trying to cut sugar out of my diet. Thankfully, most of what I eat are whole foods with little or no added sugar. But I do have my vices. Even artificial sugar can be dangerous, and my “diet” soda weakness is probably the biggest culprit to my medical “issues.” Drinking only water can be boring! Paul’s words suggest maybe a glass of wine might be a good alternative to mix things up!
Paul’s words about slaves are probably foreign to most of us. However, I am blessed to have a housekeeper here in Mexico. It is my joy to bless her and her family when we can. She is always very appreciative and treats me with the highest respect. I especially love when she and I have faith discussions and pray together.
Take some time to look at your relationships before getting on with your day. Are the elders in your church getting the respect Paul would suggest? How do you relate to people who serve you? In what ways can you be an encouragement to others?
Let’s pray. Lord, I lift church leaders up to you to be refreshed and encouraged. Give them wisdom to lead fairly and always seek your guidance. May they be respected and cared for as you desire. In Jesus’ name. Amen.