INTRO.- We must admit there is a discrimination in our world: racial, political, religious, financial, and any other kind you want to talk about.
ILL.- For example, I remember back when I was in elementary (or grade school, as we called it) that there were a few kids whom we considered to be less fortunate, meaning, we thought they were poor. At least, poorer than we were.
I remember this one girl who seemed to come to school somewhat poorly dressed and a bit dirty. She didn’t do well in school either. She always seemed to have a hard time reading and making a decent grade. So in some ways she was “looked down on” by some. I do remember, however, she seemed to always be happy and she could run faster and jump higher than practically any boy in the class! Or the whole grade school.
That caught my attention! I thought, “Wow! She is a fast runner.” And that was important to me back then. Getting good grades wasn’t nearly as important as athletic ability.
I don’t know what happened to her but I do hope that life was good to her and that God blessed her in many ways. Only He knows.
Isn’t it a shame how we discriminate in life? It happens in the world and sometimes, it even happens in the church and that’s one place where it shouldn’t happen!
I’ve seen people in churches avoided by others because they had less materially speaking or maybe came from the wrong end of town or came from broken homes, etc. WHAT A SHAME!
The church is made up of all kinds of people. Look around: do you see anyone just like you? You may find someone who has similar interests or style or tastes, but no one is exactly like you. But all must be treated fairly and graciously.
PROP.- Paul lists different people groups in the church and then advises Timothy how to treat them.
1- The older men
2- The younger men
3- The older women
4- The younger women
5- The widows
1. THE OLDER MEN
1 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father.
I don’t know much about exhorting my father, but he most certainly exhorted me in life! Didn’t your daddy do that for you as well?
Of course, the word “exhort” can carry several different meanings. One is caution or warn. And my daddy warned me many times: “Pay attention to what you’re doing.” And I don’t remember what else he warned me about. Oh yes, I got in big trouble one time for not coming straight home after school. Although he didn’t warn me verbally on that occasion. It was a much stronger exhortation. It was a physical exhortation!
ILL.- I was talking to my son-in-law on the phone one time and I could hear Hayden (nearly three years old) in the background doing something and it must have been something naughty because her daddy said, “Hayden, you are in trouble.”
Then I told him to tell her that I would have to spank her when I came for a visit. He told Hayden, “Papa is going to spank you when he comes to see you.” Her response was, “NO!”
Obviously, there are times when children, toddlers, etc. need some exhortation in life in the form of some kind of discipline. I needed it and got it and you probably did too. And no matter how sweet they may seem to be at church, they may be different at home.
As far as exhorting an older man in the sense of warning, I’m not sure. One way it might be appropriate is in preaching the Word and then it must still be done with grace or graciousness.
The word “exhort” also carries the meaning of “encourage.” Now that’s more like it. More preferable.
We all need to encourage one another in the faith as best we can. One way I can do this is through preaching. I want to do the best I can.
I also want to encourage individually. Whenever I see someone do something I try to remember and exhort or encourage them. “You did a good job,” etc.
Don’t be harsh toward older men. Why? They probably don’t deserve it. Some may, of course, but rather exhort them as if he were your father. How would you do that?
If my father were living he would be 100 years old and I would say, “Dad, I love you very much.” Perhaps this is how we should exhort older men. “I love you, brother.”
2. THE YOUNGER MEN
Treat younger men as brothers. Why? Because they are your brother!
I would treat younger men as younger brothers, because they are brothers and they are younger than me. I’m a senior citizen, full-fledged.
ILL.- A Dad dished up some ice cream for his sons, seven years old and five years old but he was upset to see them fighting over who should get the first bowl. So the Dad decided to teach a lesson. He said, “If Jesus were here, He would say, ‘Let my brother have the first bowl. I can wait.’”
The seven-year-old then said to his brother, “OK. I’ll let you be Jesus!”
Is that how you would treat your brother? Sometimes we are very selfish or self-centered. Of course, the real idea is to be unselfish toward your brother and your brother in the faith.
ILL.- Suppose we’re having a wonderful potluck meal at the church. What do you do? You let your brother go first? Or else you go to the dessert table and get yours first while your brother is standing in line for the main meal!
ILL.- A little guy gets on a plane and sits next to the window. A few minutes later, a big, heavy, strong mean-looking, hulking guy plops down in the seat next to him and immediately falls
The little guy starts to feel a little airsick, but he's afraid to wake the big guy up to ask if he can go to the bathroom. He knows he can't climb over him, and so the little guy is sitting there, looking at the big guy, trying to decide what to do.
Suddenly, the plane hits an air pocket and an uncontrollable wave of nausea passes through the little guy. He can't hold it in any longer and he pukes all over the big guy's chest. About five minutes later the big guy wakes up, looks down, and sees the vomit all over him.
"So," says the little guy, "are you feeling better now?"
You should always treat your brother with compassion and inquire about his health!
Treat younger men as brothers. Pray for them. Be concerned about them and especially, in regard to their faith.
3. THE OLDER WOMEN
2 Treat older women as mothers.
When you get to my age the older women are starting to thin out and those who could really be the age of my mother are few and far between, because mom would be 90 years old now.
ILL.- I’ve enjoyed visiting with and ministering to our Sr. ladies over the years, like Miss Billie, Etola Burris, Eddalee Keller, Ida Stegall, and Louise Smith. All these widow ladies they were old enough to be my mother. So it was pretty easy to treat them as such. Now some were more difficult to deal with than others. Some were more needy than others. Some wanted more attention, etc.
What you would do for your elderly mother? Go see her. Visit with her. Listen to her stories and complaints. Run errands for her. Take her out to eat. Repair stuff for her. Clean house for her.
And I’ve done all these things for elderly ladies in the church. I’ve even walked dogs for some!!!
And they also talked to me like I was their kid! NOT REALLY. But they did treat me with kindness and that may have been because they didn’t get much company otherwise!
Any time there are older women in the church and especially, if they are widows they need to be cared for, looked after, visited with, and prayed for!
4. THE YOUNGER WOMEN
And treat younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.
ILL.- Since she had to go to work the next day, she told the repairman, "I'll leave the key under the mat. Fix the dishwasher, leave the bill on the counter, and I'll mail you a check. Oh, by the way don't worry about my bulldog. He won't bother you. But, whatever you do, do NOT, under ANY circumstances, talk to my parrot!" "I repeat, Do not talk to my Parrot!!!"
When the repairman arrived at Wanda's apartment the following day, he discovered the biggest, meanest looking bulldog he has ever seen. But, just as she had said, the dog just lay there on the carpet watching the repairman go about his work.
The parrot, however, drove him nuts the whole time with his incessant yelling, cursing and name calling. Finally the repairman couldn't contain himself any longer and yelled, "Shut up, you stupid ugly bird!" To which the parrot replied, "Get him, Spike!"
How would you treat your sister? Go fix her appliances but be careful with the parrot.
Seriously, how would you treat your sister? With loving kindness, checking on her, praying for her, etc. And I do these with my sister. We email one another each week. I’m the first to write and ask, “How are you? How was your weekend? How are you feeling? Did you put me in your will?” (No, not that!)
I do pray for her, check on her, and whenever I go see her I help with cleaning off the table if we’ve eaten with her and her family. I try to be as helpful and thoughtful as possible.
This is also how we should treat younger women in the church: with loving kindness, as a sister, etc. And with absolute purity. You wouldn’t think of lusting after your own sister, nor should we do with any younger woman in the church.
I Corinthians 13:6 “Love does not delight in evil...” Or perhaps does not seek to do evil.
5. THE WIDOWS
3 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 5The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. 6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame. 8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Give proper recognition to widows who are really in need.
What kind of need? Do they need a ride somewhere? To the grocery store? To the doctor? Do they need help with housework? Do they need help with anything that you can do?
ILL.- Last fall our Louise Smith decided it was time to sell her house and move to a retirement home. So what happened? I got her connected with a local realtor whom I trusted. Her brother and our people proceeded to move Louise to the South Wind Heights retirement home. They moved boxes of possessions, furniture, TV, clothes, etc.
Next some of our ladies decided to have a moving sale at Louise’s house. It was a two-day deal and a whole lot more work than they thought it would be, BUT IT WAS A BIG HELP TO LOUISE.
Is this taking care of a widow who has a real need? It sure is.
What about going to a nursing home to visit a widow lady? Is that taking care of her needs? Yes, because everybody needs attention and care.
4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.
How many of you would vote for this? Kids and grandkids should first take care of their own family members, particularly, widows with needs.
ILL.- My mother, rest her soul, spent the last 10 months of her life in the National HealthCare nursing home in Joplin, MO. Elaine and I lived 420 miles away in IL at the time. I went every month to spend two to two-and-a-half days with her. Her house was 8 miles from the nursing home and that’s where I stayed. I would take mother out to eat whenever she felt like it. I would take her back to her house to check things out. I tried to do whatever she wanted. We even danced together at the nursing home when her favorite pianist came to play favorite oldies. I have never regretted anything I did for mother those last 10 months and even prior to that time. But I have regretted not doing more!
I wish all kids and even grandkids would remember to take care of their elderly family members, widows and otherwise.
8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
5 The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. 6But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.
What can we say to these inspired words? The widow who is in Christ will hopefully spend her days in prayer, trusting God to care for her. As we all should do. But the widow who lives for pleasure (whatever that pleasure be) is in trouble. So for all people, widows and otherwise.
Taking care of one another in the church. Why should we do this? Because we are truly family. We are the family of God here and now. And we will be there and then. We should take care of one another!
Steve Shepherd, Jonesboro Christian Church, AR