Dealing with people has always been hard.
In fact, someone I know, jokes that “ministry would be great if it didn’t involve people.”
Except, if we’ve lived anywhere, except maybe in a bubble, we know this isn’t entirely a joke!
Paul gets into the nitty gritty of dealing with people in the church. He wants to equip Timothy in order to help him avoid some trouble.
There is a lesson for all of us here as there was for the young preacher.
“Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity.” (1Tim 5:1-2)
The Greek word for “rebuke” here is used only once (here) in the New Testament. It is not the usual word used for rebuke but is more harsh and means “to strike at” (Enduring Word App).
Paul is not saying that the rebuke of an older man is never appropriate (see 5:20) however, he is urging to do so with a respect and gentleness when dealing with older men that includes an encouragement to do the right thing.
Likewise, Paul tells Timothy to treat younger men as brothers, and younger women as sisters, and older women as mothers.
These are wise words for all of us as we deal with each other.
A good check for our hearts in this is to ask ourselves if our conduct toward others is “for their good”.
When we talk to others about that person, is it for that person’s good? Or is it just so we can complain, vent or gossip?
Do we pray for that person?
When we interact with others is it in a loving, family, “for-their-good” way or is it to get something for ourselves?
There is a wealth of wisdom in Paul’s words about how to live with others. If we would heed it, we could avoid all kinds of squabbles, stress and trouble. We would probably sleep better at night.
Just think, if men treat other women as sisters-in-Christ (and women treat other men as brothers) we could avoid all sorts of potential sexual issues. (And I highly recommend a book by Ben Stuart, especially if you are single called, “Single, Dating, Engaged, Married ” that helps with this mindset and appropriate boundaries at each stage.)
All this to say, God’s Word is so good. Let’s read it, and let it read us. Let’s let the Living Word change us so we can live with others in the way the Lord would have us —for their good and His glory!