Summary: Fourth in a series from 1 Timothy. This message describes a functional church family.
The Bible describes the church as a:
• Holy Nation (1 Peter 2:9) – common citizenship in the heavenly realm
• Priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) – privilege of direct access to God for all believers
• Kingdom (Revelation 5:10) – common submission to the King of kings and Lord of lords
• Vine (John 15:5) – common connection to Christ that enables us to bear fruit
• Body (Ephesians 5:23-30) – common dependence on the Head, Jesus Christ
• Temple (Ephesians 2:20-22) – built on foundation of sound doctrine, with Jesus as the cornerstone
• Flock (1 Peter 5:2-3) – common need to be cared for by the Great Shepherd
• Family (1 Timothy 3:15)
We’ve already seen that a functional church family, much like a human family, is based on:
• Sound doctrine - functional families are built on godly principles
• Proper roles for men and women – functional families are ones where men and women fulfill their god-given roles
• Moral leadership – functional families have fathers and mothers who are good role models and live a moral life
A Functional Church Family:
1. Produces respect
Read 1 Timothy 5:1, 2
Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.
1 Timothy 5:1, 2 (NIV)
We’ve already seen that the church in Ephesus had some problems that needed to be addressed:
• Some had followed after the doctrines of the false teachers
• Some women were trying to usurp the leadership roles of the men in the church
• Some of the men aspiring to leadership were not qualified
• Some widows were living impure lives
The condition of the spiritual family called for some correction and discipline. But Paul wanted to make sure that Timothy carried out the discipline in love and with respect.
“Do not rebuke” = harsh or violent rebuke
“exhort” = idea of coming alongside of one who is weak; to strengthen
Older men and women were to be treated with the same kind of respect one would show to his father and mother (not mother-in-law) – “Honor your father and mother”
Younger men and women were to be treated as brother and sister – no air of superiority. Women were to also be treated with absolute purity.
Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.
1 Peter 2:17 (NIV)
2. Provides for the needy
Read 1 Timothy 2:3-16
Widows in first century Jewish culture were usually poor and often destitute, without any means of earning a living. There was no such thing as life insurance. That situation is illustrated by the story of the widow recorded in Mark 12:41-44 where the poor widow gave out of her poverty. We have also seen that in Acts 6, the very first deacons were chosen in order to meet the needs of the Hellenistic Jewish widows.
Our cultural situation is much different today. Many women work outside the home and are able to support themselves if they become widows. In other cases, they have the proceeds from life insurance policies to meet their needs. But I think we can take the principles that Paul writes about here and apply them to our current day culture. It seems to me that Paul was concerned about the weakest, neediest and most vulnerable people in his culture – the widows. So I think it would be fair for us to say that today God wants the church family to care of its own family members who are in the most need. That might be widows, but it probably includes a much broader spectrum of people.
He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
Proverbs 14:31 (NIV)
Share with God’s people who are in need…
Romans 12:13 (NIV)
If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
1 John 3:17 (NIV)
Who is the church to help?
Although we would like to help everyone, there are limited resources. So how do we determine which people to help?
• Those who are truly in need (v. 3)
In need due to circumstances outside their control. Not those who are in need because they have made wrong choices or who have been unwise with their financial resources.
• Those who do not have other family that can support them (vv. 4, 5, 8, 16)
God’s plan is that the first line of support should be the family. Again here, Paul deals with the issue of honoring our fathers and mothers, even when they become older. Honoring our aging parents means more than just meeting their financial needs.