Summary: In 1 Timothy 5, Paul focused Timothy's attention on specific groups in the church and how to minister to them. In today's section, Paul shared with Timothy how to rebuke specific individuals, how to honor elders, and how to deal with elders who sin.


A. One day a man passed by an enclosure at the zoo and noticed that in the enclosure was both a large lion and an active monkey.

1. The man said to the zoo keeper, “How well does that work having both a lion and a monkey in the same cage? The zoo keeper said, “It works ok for the most part.”

2. The man asked, “Do they ever not get along?” “Every once in a while,” said the zoo keeper.

3. “What happens then?” asked the man. The zoo keeper replied, “We just get a new monkey.”

B. Sadly, a similar thing happens in relationships inside and outside the church.

1. People can get on each other’s nerves and get crossways with each other, and before you know it, they either part company or they devour each other.

2. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he wrote: But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another. (Gal. 5:15)

3. When the church is not the loving environment that it should be, and relationships become fragmented, then we often just get a new monkey.

4. The new monkey may be a new preacher, a new friend, or a new church.

C. Linus from the Peanuts declared: “I love mankind…It’s people I can’t stand!!”

1. Maybe you’ve heard someone say, “I love the church…it’s the people I can’t stand.”

2. At some point in our experience, most of us, members and preachers alike, may feel that way or may make such a declaration.

3. People and ministry are tough because we are all imperfect, and part of the role of church leaders is to help the church family get along with each other.

4. Listen to the way Eugene Peterson described the challenge of ministry.

“Sundays are easy. The auditorium is clean and orderly, the symbolism is clear, and the people are polite. I know what I am doing: I am going to lead this people in worship, proclaim God’s word to them, and celebrate the supper. I have had time to prepare my words and spirit. And the people are ready, arriving dressed up and expectant. Centuries of tradition converge in this Sunday singing of hymns, exposition of scripture, offering of prayers, and eating and drinking of the Lord. I love doing this. I wake up early Sunday mornings, the adrenaline pumping into my veins.

But after the sun goes down on Sundays, the clarity diffuses. From Monday to Saturday, an unaccountably unruly people track mud through the holy places, leaving a mess. The order of worship gives way to the disorder of argument and doubt, bodies in pain and emotions in confusion, misbehaving children and misdirected parents…The vision of myself as minister, so clear in Lord’s Day worship, is now blurred and distorted as it is reflected back from the eyes of people who view me as pawn to their egos. The affirmations I experience in Sunday greetings are now precarious in the slippery mud of put-downs and fault-finding.”

5. Because all people are imperfect and because the church is made up of people, then there are going to be problems.

a. That’s why Paul gave Timothy thorough instructions about how to minister among a fellowship of flawed saints.

b. This is such an important lesson because we need to be prepared to receive and offer loving guidance and correction.

D. Up to this point in 1 Timothy, Paul has had a lot to say about doctrine and important issues related to the function of the church.

1. But here in the 5th chapter, Paul focuses on how to minister to the specific needs of particular groups of people within the church.

a. In verses 1-2, he explains how to admonish men and women of various ages.

b. In verses 3-16, he describes how to honor and provide for widows (we will explore this in next week’s sermon).

c. In verses 17-18, he instructs how to doubly honor elders who are worthy.

d. In verses 19-22, he explains how to rebuke elders who are sinning.

e. In verses 23-25, he provides final instructions about respecting and rebuking.

2. The body of Christ contains people of all ages, abilities, and levels of maturity.

3. Paul’s instructions to Timothy in this chapter suggest that being aware of this diversity will help us to respect, and when necessary, to rebuke the saints in a way that glorifies God and strengthens the church.

I. First, Paul Addressed How to Treat People of Different Ages and Genders

A. There are going to be times when we have to approach brothers and sisters in Christ for the purpose of correction.

1. For most of us, rebuking others is so distasteful that we avoid it altogether, and yet it is a responsibility that we must uphold.

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