Monday, April 19, 2004

1 Timothy -- Passing the Baton (17)

Some interesting, pithy, and diverse next words from Paul:

Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin. 

No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments. 

The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after. Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed. (1 Timothy 5:22-25)

"Do not lay hands..." That is to install new leadership. Churches are in constant need of leadership and laborers. Even though the Scriptures indicate that all have a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good, only a few seek the manifestation and press on to find a place of service. So in the midst of great need, Paul advises constraint rather than liberality in filling leadership positions. The downside of a fallen leader, it would seem, far outweighs the upside of a filled position. Do we not all personally of at least one pastor or elder who has left his wife and children to run off with some other woman in the church? Is it not somehow easier to associate, with some ministries, an eagerness for donations over helpfulness. Such vacuums are better left empty than filled with more of the same.

"...keep yourself..." The leader must fully understand the pitfalls of leadership and actively avoid them. No one enters the ministry with the hope of falling.

"No longer drink water exclusively..." This is a completely personal comment to Timothy for which we have no prior history. Any comment beyond what Paul simply says here is speculation. 

The next words of Paul are brilliant. We would say, "What goes around, comes around." Our phrasing is quite impoverished compared to Paul's. There are bad people whose evil is obvious. There are bad people who conceal their dark sides very well. No matter, evil will come to light. The heart and practice of sin will produce a crop. Similarly, the humility of some people is such that the goodness of their deeds is not quite evident. Such things, too, will see the light of day. Put another way, there is sometimes a direct connection between the person and the deed. At other times, the effect is delayed and may not have a clear connection. The practical side of this is to bring to reward and prosecute what we can and leave the rest our God.

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>

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