1 Timothy 5:1-2

Personal Relationships in the family of God

 

What do you think is the biggest reasons pastors fail? 

____a. inadequate knowledge of the Bible

____b. poor ministry skills.

____c. inability to get along with people.

____d. marital unfaithfulness.

 

Most of the problems which plague churches are problems between people.

How we relate and respond to each other in the church is important What did Jesus say would be the way the world would know that we are his disciples? John 13:35. He also said that harmony among us tells the world that he really came and accomplished something.  John 17:20-21.

This sounds really good, but in the real world of living with each other it is not so easy.  Let’s be honest. There are some other believers who really get under your skin and bug you.

I think it was Charles Swindoll who made this little poem famous:

            To live above with saints we love,

            O! That will be glory

            But to live below with saints we know,

            Now that’s another story!

As the young pastor told his old seminary professor.  I love the ministry; it’s the

people I can’t stand.

Let’s face it.  There are some people in the church who are just odd.  There are others who drive you up the wall. Some you just don’t like much.  Guess what there are other people who find you and me odd and irritating too. As the old Quaker said, “The whole world has gone daft save thee and me.  And sometimes I wonder about thee”

So, how does God expect us to function interpersonally?

God expects us to function as an ideal family.

The church consists of four groups of people: old men, young men, old women, and young women. I’m not going to tell you which group you are in. There are those who are older than you and those who are younger than you, those in the generation ahead of you and those in the next generations following you.  No matter where you are in the age spectrum in your church there are right ways to relate to others and wrong ways.

Timothy was a part of the younger set in Ephesus where he ministered and Paul wanted him to be careful about how he interacted with these various groups in the church. In Paul’s advice for Timothy are principles which should guide our relationships to each other.

 

1. We are to treat older men like fathers. V. 1a

So, how are fathers to be treated by their adult children.  We are to treat them with honor and respect.  We should listen to them respectfully and not mock them. We treat them with gentleness, kindness and patience.  We are concerned about their needs. We make time for them.

Is the older generation, always right?  Do older people always say and do what is right? Can they ever become spiritual roadblocks to spiritual growth? Can they become bitter, selfish, resistant to needed change? Yes, do we just let their sins go on spoiling the fellowship of the church? No. But there is a proper way to approach an older person.  It is a firm but respectful appeal.  It is not striking out with harshness and sarcasm.  In the Jewish culture of Timothy’s time it was unthinkable that a younger person would correct an older person.  But Paul says, if they need to be corrected, correct them but correct them in a respectful way.

Really, that is the way to approach anyone isn’t it?

 

2. We are to treat younger men as brothers. V. 1b

What a minute. I had an older brother growing up and I don’t want anyone treating me like my brother treated me! O.K. Paul is saying that we should treat each other like brothers should treat each other.  What words come to you mind when we say to treat others like brothers should treat each other?  Loyalty, love, respect, longsuffering, forgiveness, accountability, encouragement, value, fairness, wanting the best, giving good advice, helping when help is needed.

 

3. We are to treat older women as mothers. V.  2a

That doesn’t mean expecting them to feed you and mend your clothes.  It is basically the same ways we treat the older men. Love, honor, and respect, compassion.

 

4. We are to treat younger women like sisters. V. 2b

We could just say ditto to what Paul said about treating younger men.  Then, Paul adds one more point. He says, “in all purity.” When it comes to the opposite sex there should not even be a hint of impurity in action or thought. You treat a woman as you would treat your sister.  No decent man would even think about violating his sister. A brother protects his sister’s purity. This is a mind-set which is undermined by the media today. The world champions lust and impurity.  A man must be careful about how he looks at a woman, thinks about a woman and relates to a woman. Many churches have been damaged by sexual impurity. People are hurt by sexual sin. It separates families and friends. It destroys the testimony of the church.

O.K. in this text Paul only addresses a younger man and how he should relate to others.  What would he say to older men and to older women and to younger women? Essentially the same thing. Love, honor and respect one another in your speech, actions, and attitudes.  Relationships are important in the Body of Christ.

 

The ancient pagan Greek writer Lucian said this about Christians: [quote]

 

Here is the bottom line.  When people come into the church and see how we treat each other, our relationships should be a magnet which draws them to our Savior. They should see a family of families who love, honor, and respect one another.

Like a family, a church should be a safe place.

What if we fail?  What should we do?  Repent and seek forgiveness.

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