Worthy of Honor
1 Timothy 5:1-6:2
Primary Truth Taught- All members of the local church are to be treated with honor, love and kindness.
After Paul and Timothy worked through the issues of maintaining the true Gospel in the midst to a Church that has many opponents of the true Gospel, namely, the false teachers, Paul now turns to some very practical issues. I want to remind you today that proper conduct must always come after proper doctrine. You can’t live rightly unless you believe rightly. Some theologians call it orthodoxy and orthopraxy…right doctrine then right living. So, it seems right and in order then that Paul would follow up truth taught with truth lived out within the church.
I must admit that if I didn’t practice biblical exposition and have the habit of preaching through books of the Bible verse by verse, I probably would not select this passage. However, in God’s providence we are here in 1 Timothy chapter 5 this morning, God has selected this passage for us.
The key word for today is Honor. In fact, the entire chapter five and the first part of six will be divided by way of zeroing in on the word honor.
Everyone is treated with honor and yet treated differently depending on age and gender. This flies in the face of our times when everyone thinks men and women are alike or young and old are alike. They are not alike. Here God shows us how it is each must be treated within the household of God…
5 Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.
I pray you see here the family atmosphere present within the local church.
Human Need Met
Everyone within the Church must be treated with care and respect. The bottom line here is we are stuck with each other. We all have various parts to play; roles to live out and we all count and we’re all important. This is what the Apostle Paul wants us to see today. We treat everyone within the church with honor and respect flowing from our deep love for Jesus Christ.
In this section Paul addresses three specific groups who are vulnerable to dishonor. Of the helpless widow he writes that the church is to treat her with honor, of the pastor elder who, at times, stands up under much criticism, treat with double honor and finally to the master and/or employer, all honor. In these three test cases, Paul shows us that from those in the church who are needy to those in the church who lead to even a slave/master relationship all must be addressed and treated with honor and respect.
As I read this morning’s rather lengthy text notice the three times the word honor is used.
3 Honor widows who are truly widows. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. 5 She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, 6 but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. 7 Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
9 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, 10 and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. 11 But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry 12 and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. 13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. 14 So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. 15 For some have already strayed after Satan. 16 If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows.
Care for family members…
Ephesians 2:19–20 (ESV)
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
What is the church’s responsibility concerning widows?
3 Honor widows who are truly widows.
Timothy is to lead the way in honoring the widows within the local church. He is to teach other to show honor to widows. Now, the church is to be very careful to do this. The world takes advantage of widows, the elderly, and anyone who may be in a vulnerable state in life. The church is to esteem widows with honor.
Now, the Apostle takes this idea of widows and expands it somewhat.
The first thing we should see is that not all widows are true widows, as Paul writes. If a widow has family then her family should make sure her needs are met. He writes that this pleases God. Families are brought closer together as the members care for others within the family. While a widow who has family members is a widow, she is not a widow in distress.
5 She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day,
The widow in distress or one who is helpless prays to God for her care and God answers her prayers through support from the local church.
The key here in determining who the church must help and who the family must help is made clear.
Not only does Paul differentiate between widows who have families and ones who don’t but he also speaks of her moral conduct…
6 but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.
This type of widow, one who is bent on frivolous living and spending should not be cared for by the church. She is not doing her part and may in fact even be lost.
The Church in Ephesus had a roll or a log book in which the widows who were true widows would be recorded so that their needs might be met by the deacons of the church. Like with other roles in the church there had to be some qualifications.
For the church to care for a widow she needed to be alone and godly then she was added to the roll. The church’s benevolent spending was monitored and did not go to anyone who waltzed in to the church with a sad story. These were truly godly people who could not help themselves.
So far, she needed to be alone and a believer. Next we’ll see that there was also an age consideration…
9 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, 10 and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. 11 But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry 12 and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. 13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. 14 So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander.
The idea here is that a younger widow is free to remarry and should do so. She should care for here husband, children and home, because if she were placed on the list she would become lazy and dependent rather than being productive and fulfilling her God given role.
God is glorified when families care for their members and when the church cares for widows in distress. When there is no family then God uses the church to care for the widow. The job of the church is to care for widows just like they were your own mothers. The Church of God becomes the family who cares for the needs of the widows in the church. She is given honor rather than forced to beg and scrape by in poverty.
Psalm 146:9 (ESV)
9 The Lord watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
James 1:27 (ESV)
27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
The way God cares for widows is by using the Church to meet their needs and to provide a family for them. By caring for widows, they are shown honor. What a wonderful ministry the church has to care for her widows. It truly is a supernatural love it is God caring for them.
This is the working out of the 5th Commandment…showing honor to your parents. When it’s just the mother left children care for their mother/grandmother as a means to love God. for this is pleasing in the sight of God.
17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” 19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. 21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. 22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. 23 (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) 24 The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. 25 So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.
The elder who rules well and labor in preaching and teaching God’s Word are worthy to receive honor. Here, Paul calls it double honor.
I’ll just cut to the chase on this passage…The elder who preaches and teaches God’s Word is worthy to receive double honor. By double honor, Paul has in mind 1) respect and authority and 2) Should be paid well. Since he devotes untold hours pouring over God’s Word preparing sermon after sermon and Bible study after Bible study, since he spends hours in prayer for each and every member, since he is always on call and always has the responsibility for the church and the pressures of ministry, he is not given time to go out and hold down another full time job. Therefore, because it would not bring God glory to have His ministers begging and living in poverty either, they should receive some level of pay. I think Paul’s logic goes something like this…The pastor cares for you, you should care for him.
ESV Study Bible makes a great side point here…pg 2333
18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”
One interesting note here is that Paul was already recognizing the New Testament as Scripture even by this early date. He understood that the Gospel accounts of Jesus are to be placed on the same level as the OT is…namely, Scripture.
Muzzle and ox…Deut. 25:4
Laborer is worthy of his wage…Luke 10:7
Luke’s Gospel was already written down and being circulated in the churches by the time Paul wrote 1 Timothy.
It is biblical to honor the elders within the local church. Show them respect and appreciation for their work on your behalf.
Hebrews 13:17 (ESV)
17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Showing honor to Elders is carrying out Hebrews 13:17.
The Apostle also shows how, if necessary, Elders need rebuked…
19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. 21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.
If an elder is in sin and there are multiple witnesses then rebuke him. Never rebuke an elder by yourself or without multiple witnesses. Often when one person rebukes and elder, it isn’t that the elder has done something wrong, but it is a difference of ideas or opinions.
Why is it that God cares so much for the honor of the Elder who preaches and teaches? Preaching is often how men and women are saved…
Romans 10:12–15 (ESV)
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
It is important that the congregation honor their elders…show them respect and obedience because we are held accountable by God for you.
6 Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.
We can relate to the section on widows and to the section on elders but this final section is more difficult. Literally, it is slave master relationship. What God desires for the slave is to honor his master with all honor. The widow is worthy of honor, the elder, double honor and the master all honor.
This passage is very important for us today. We may not be slaves or masters but today we do relate to others as employee/employer. Which, believe it or not, is closer to slave/master than you might think.
I can hear many today…you don’t know how right you are! How is it that we relate to our employers or those high up than we are. Even the CEO has to answer to the stockholders right?
Employees are to esteem their bosses or those over them as worthy of all honor. My attitude must be if I am working for a lost person then I am going to show kindness to them, respect them when addressed, work hard, go over and above what’s expected, etc so that they will have no reason, at least as far as it relates to us, to not believe the Gospel.
He goes on to say that if our bosses are Christians then we might be tempted to take advantage of the fact that they are Christ-like etc. He tells us to serve all the more because they will benefit from our hard work and godly attitude.
How are you relating to each of these three specific groups Paul highlights? Are you caring for those who cannot care for themselves? Are you honoring your church leaders? Are you honoring you employer?
This passage also gives us the overarching principle that all within the local church must relate to others with care and kindness. We must take the time and go out of our way for the body of Christ.
How are you doing?
I’d lay this challenge on you this morning…if there is someone who you have not treated as a brother or sister or mother or father and God is burdening you right now…if you are thinking specifically about an individual then this week go to them and seek their forgiveness…then seek God’s forgiveness. All for the glory of God.
Primary Truth Taught- All members of the local church are to be treated with honor, love and kindness.
This pleases God…
Declaration of Grace