Mickey D. Brackin
Senior Pastor, Mars Hill Baptist Church, Lawrenceburg
Out of the realization of the importance of their own church family, Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote these words:
“I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God –
I’ve been washed in the fountain, Cleansed by His blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod.
For I’m part of the family, the family of God.”
As Paul wrote to Timothy in I Timothy 5 he certainly had in mind the metaphor of the church as a family. The language of this passage presents this truth with words, such as “father,” “brother,” “mother,” “sister,” “children,” “grandchildren” and “widows.”
Paul offers Timothy instructions concerning how we are to treat one another in the church (in the family). In our relationships as family, there should be a mutual love and respect for one another (vv. 1-2). Church leadership must be examples of love and godly caring for those of the family even those that need timely correction.
Paul turns his attention in verses 3-8 specifically to the care of widows in the church. Since the very earliest days of the church, the ministry to widows has been a priority of believers (Acts 6:1). Paul offers godly guidelines and instructions in dealing with widows in genuine need (vv. 3-8).
According to Charles Ray, “He gave Timothy a set of guidelines that ensured compassionate help from the church for those in genuine need but also set guardrails to keep the church from being taken advantage of or embroiled in controversy.
These guidelines may have been intended to help the Ephesian church avoid trouble, or they may indicate that the church already was facing a significant problem, perhaps connected to the activities of false teachers.” Along with the churches’ responsibility to care for widows, Paul placed a great emphasis upon the responsibility of family members to meet the needs of their loved ones.
In the final section of our focal passage (vv. 17-21), Paul directs his words toward the care and support for church leaders (elders, pastors, overseers). Those leaders who serve well, in a godly manner, should be honored with proper respect and proper renumeration (vv. 17-18). These are the leaders that stay true in teaching and preaching God’s Word while being a godly example in character and conduct of life. They serve the Lord well, work hard and are transparent in their lives before the world and the congregation. Such leaders correctly understand their accountability and responsibility before God and the church.
This section closes with the proper handling of accusations brought against church leaders. Church leaders are to be blameless (above reproach) but they are not beyond false accusation. The critical word is that these accusations be properly addressed and attended to. This was true in Timothy’s day and so very critical in our day!