Sermon – Maintaining Healthy Leadership in a Cover-up Culture (1 Timothy 5:17 – 5:25) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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1 Timothy 2023

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Sermon 14 of 18

Maintaining Healthy Leadership in a Cover-up Culture

Tom Sweatman, 1 Timothy 5:17 - 5:25, 14 May 2023

Tom continues our series in Paul's first letter to Timothy and preaches from 1 Timothy 5:17-25. In these verses Paul shows Timothy what healthy leadership in the church looks like. How are we to treat and appoint our elders in our day?

1 Timothy 5:17 - 5:25

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.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

1 Timothy, we're looking at the Lord's word, and we're in 1 Timothy, and we're going to read 2 parts of 1 Timothy. 1 Timothy chapter 3 verses 1 to 7, and then 1 Timothy chapter 5 verse 17 to the end of the chapter verse 25. 1 Timothy chapter 3, 1 to 7, and then 1 Timothy chapter 5, 17 to 25. And then Tom's gonna come up and open this precious word of God to us.

And we adore Jesus by hearing his apostolic words to the church and listening to it, putting it into practice. That's how we adore him. 1 Timothy chapter 3 verse 1. Here's a trustworthy saying, Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent, but gentle, not quarrelsome, but a lover of not a lover of money.

Sorry. And they've given something away there. I'm gonna read that again. I'm so sorry. I mean, that's not given to drunkenness, not violent, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how could he take care of God's church? Must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders so that he will not fall into disgrace. And into the devil's trap.

And then over to chapter 5 in verse 17, The elders who direct the affairs of the church, well, are worth double honor. Perhaps I hope to read that 1 again. In fact, I'm going to now. The elders who direct the affairs of the church, well, are worthy of double honor, especially those who work in preaching and teaching. For scripture says, do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain, and the worker deserves his wages.

Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is bought by 2 or 3 witnesses. But those elders who are sinning, you are to reprove before everyone. So that the others may take warning. I charge you. In the sight of God, in Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality and to do nothing out of favoritism.

Do not be hasty in laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illness, says, The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them. The sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious, cannot remain hidden forever, so read the word of God, Tom, over to you.

Okay. Thank you for reading both of those passages to us. And if you do have a hard copy of the bible or you can see it on your phone, it would be great to keep those those passages open in front of you. Know that there are some people who are here for the very first time this morning, and it's great to have you. If you are new, this is a series that we've been working through in this letter called 1 Timothy, If you're new to the bible, this was a letter written by Paul, and he was a he was a convert to Christ.

He used to persecute the church. But then he became a Christian, and he's writing to this man called Timothy, who he calls his true son in the faith, someone who's very dear to him, And Timothy is a young ish church pastor in a place called Ephasis, and Paul has been writing to him to teach him all about the gospel and the church which the gospel produces and what the church is to be all about. And we are focusing On this little section, at the end of chapter 5, which, as you can see, has lots to say to elders, but I trust that there will be helpful things for us all at here this morning. So as we come to it again, let's seek the Lord's help and pray together. Father, we do thank you that all of your word and all parts of scripture are breathed out by you and we thank you that every part is useful to us for correcting us and for rebuking us and for encouraging us and for training us in righteousness so that we might be thoroughly equipped to live for you and to follow you.

And we thank you for this letter and for all that you have taught us through it so far. And we prayed that as we spend time on these verses now at the end of chapter 5 that you would please speak to every 1 of us, leader or not, elder or not, home group leader or not, we pray that you would speak to each 1 of us because these things matter to us all and we pray it in Jesus name. Our men. Well, in some ways, the heart of this fantastic letter is found in chapter 3 chapter 3 verse verse 14. If you've got a bible, you can have a look at it.

Here's what Paul says to Timothy about the church. He wants him to know that the church is not just a religious building, and it's not just people who come together every now and again for a religious experience. He wants Timothy to know that the church is the assembly or it is the congregation of the living God. It is the pillar and the foundation of truth. I don't know if that chimes with how you normally think about church, but that is what we are.

It's what we are this morning. We are the assembly of the living God, those who get together in the name of the living God, and our job is to commend the Goss to the world. We are here to tell the world that Christ Jesus has come into the world to save sinners of whom people like us are the worst. It's our job. We have a church, the assembly of the living God.

And so naturally, if we don't care about vulnerable people in the church for instance, chapter 5 verse 13, then it's gonna discredit the name of Christ, isn't it? It's what we were thinking about last week. Or if the church is not discerning, in who it helps, chapter 5 verse 16, then it discredit the name of Christ, doesn't it? In other words, Paul wants Timothy and the church to know that as the assembly of the living God, it matters how you live because the world is watching. And to our point this morning, if there is rot in the leadership, then it discredit the name of the church.

Before the watching world. Perhaps you've heard that expression. A fish rots from the head down. Apparently, it's true. I don't know whether it is true.

But when a fish is caught and killed, it will spoil from the head down. The head is the first thing to go and then the rest will follow. And that little illustration is a way of describing a state or an organization that goes wrong because its leadership has spoiled. There's rot in the leadership, and so everything else follows. And just 1 flick through the news on any given week.

Will give you plenty of examples of that, won't it? If the culture of the leadership is about lying and covering up and not dealing honestly and openly with things, then how is the rest of the organization gonna stay healthy? The head has spoiled the rest will follow. And for Timothy, this was not an academic question. If you've been with us over this series, you'll know that there were in this church teachers who according to chapter 4, did have some kind of platform and yet their theology was rot from the head down.

He describes them in chapter 1 as those who teach false doctrines, chapter 1 verse 3. He says that they are people who follow deceiving spirits, chapter 4 verse 1. In other words, there were these teach as in the church who were claiming to be leaders, there was rot in what they said and how they lived. And if Timothy wasn't careful, that would spoil the rest of the congregation too. And so here's a question that really, really mattered for him, and it matters for us.

In chapter 3, Timothy was told to appoint healthy leaders, but how will he maintain them? That's the focus of the end of chapter 5. If chapter 3 is about appointing healthy leaders, the end of chapter 5 is about maintaining healthy leadership. And there's 3 things that he wants us to know. Firstly, to maintain a healthy leadership elders must be honored appropriately.

Secondly, they must be treated fairly and thirdly, they must be appointed carefully. They must be honored appropriately, they must be treated fairly, and they must be appointed carefully. And now with that, you might say, okay, well, I'm here this morning. It's a beautiful, sunny day now. I'm not a church elder, and I may never be.

Actually, it's my first time here, and I don't even know who the church elders are. So what has this got to do with me? What has this got to do with me? But of course, if you work in any business or in a hospital or in a school or in a garage, or if you're at home with a family, you will know that what happens with the leadership affects the whole. The whole business.

The whole garage, the whole hospital ward, the whole classroom, the whole home is affected. What happens with the leaders affects us all, and therefore everybody, elder or not, should know these verses, and insist on their application. Because it matters for us all and it matters for our witness to the world. So firstly then, he says the elders must be honored appropriately. In verse 17 to 18.

They must be honored appropriately. Verse 17, the elders who direct the affairs of the church well, which is literally the elders who are well ruling. Elders who are well ruling, are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. Christopher Ash, who's a a British writer and speaker. He's written a book called The book that your pastor wishes that you would read, but is too embarrassed to ask.

The book that your pastor wishes you would read but is too embarrassed to ask. I think verse 17 feels a little bit like that. The verses that we all need to know about, but your pastors are too embarrassed to preach on. Worty of double honor, he says, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. Now, what's he talking about there?

What does he mean? Well, in most churches, Some of the elders will preach and some of them won't. That's mostly the case in most churches. Some of the elders will preach and some of them won't. But according to chapter 3 verse 2, they must all be able to teach.

So they may not all be preachers, but they must, as elders, know the faith, and be able to pass it on, and be able to correct others. So in this church, we do have non preaching elders, but we don't have any non teaching elders. They're all teachers in 1 way or another. And therefore, this is not saying, there ought to be in your church a hierarchy amongst the leaders. You can have some elders who don't preach and you are to consider them like the backroom staff.

Okay? They are worthy of double honor, but all their stuff is behind the scenes, but those who preach are like the first 11 out on the pitch. Okay? They are worthy of the finest double cream. They are worthy of the double honor, the real honor.

Now, he's not wanting to make a distinction like that. What he's saying is that word ministry from your leaders is worthy of double honor. The teaching of the bible is worthy of double honor. That's what he's saying. Wherever word ministry comes from your leaders, that's worthy of double honor.

You see in business, A good leader may have to be the best manager in the room. They may have to make the right decisions all the time. They must be quick and punchy and know the answers to the problems. You know, when Elon Musk appoints a new CEO, of Twitter. That's what he wants.

Right? He wants someone with a fierce reputation who's got business skill, who makes the right decisions. Who's going to turn the company around, who's going to be able to stand up to him. That's what he's looking for in a good manager. And of course, elders do need to have some skill in those areas, but how do they direct the affairs of the church well?

They work hard at preaching and teaching. Craig quoted this verse in his prayers. Chapter 4 verse 13. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to preaching and to teaching. In other words, good church leaders who rule well do not lead according to the latest book on church growth, and they do not make their decisions based on whatever is fashionable in the Christian world, they are men of the book who direct the church as best they can according to the word of God.

If elders don't do that, If they don't love the bible and live it out personally, they shouldn't be blindly praised. You notice he says, the elders who rule well, they shouldn't be blindly praised if they don't love the bible. But if they do, it's really good to honor them properly, and especially because they bring you the Word of God. It's what he say. And look at verse 18, here's a reason for that instruction.

For scripture says, Do not muzzle an ox while it's treading out the grain, and the worker deserves his wages. Now, if you do have a bible either on your phone or a hard copy, just take a moment to look at the footnote and ask yourself, where is Paul quoting from there? What 2 scriptures is he quoting? He's quoting 1 from deuteronomy, a book right back at the beginning of the old testament, but where's the other 1 from? He's quoting from Luke 10 verse 7 where Jesus sends out the 72.

Now why does that matter? Because clearly, when Paul is writing this, the teachings of Jesus and maybe bits of Luke's gospel are already in circulation, and they are named Scripture. It's quite a big deal, isn't it? What Moses wrote and what Jesus said and what Luke recorded are the breath of God. Even here, back in AD, 63, 64, 65, that kind of time.

Even here, they already knew that. That what Jesus said in Luke's gospel was as authoritative as scriptural as what we find right back in the old testament. He quotes Jesus alongside deuteronomy and says, as scripture says, it is the word of God. So it's a very important verse but it's not a very complimentary verse, is it? See, how does he describe the elders here?

Those who are worthy of double honor for preaching and teaching. He wants you to imagine them as sweaty oxen. What you've got to do with this verse. You've got to imagine a pair of oxen in the heat of the day, marching up and down the fields, straining at the work, That's the elders, he says. So maybe we should replace our photographs on the church website, you know, instead of our head shots we should have sweaty cattle.

You know, these are the elders of your church. That's how he describes them. And Paul is saying here that given that is the nature of the job, is fair enough that they should get some of the grain. The idea that you would muzzle the ox while it was working, you would put a muzzle over his mouth So even though he was laboring in the heat of the day, there was a muzzle there, so that he could not get a lick or a taste, of the grain that he was helping to produce is cruelty. Shouldn't do that with your animals.

The old testament says. Well, then shouldn't preachers and teachers have some recognition for their work. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul says that this very verse from deuteronomy was written for us. Because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you too?

That's 1 Corinthians 9. Now Paul interestingly goes on to say that he chose not to take that support from the Corinthians even though he could of. But basically, yes is the answer, he says. Those who sow a spiritual seed among you, ought to reap a material harvest. That's the point of the quote.

And it's just worth saying that those like myself and others on the staff team who are in that position are genuinely thankful for this church and a commission, the network to which we belong, which makes it possible for us to do this full time. And we are able to. Give ourselves to the preaching of the word and to teaching, and we are thankful for being able to do that. But that is not the only food that the cattle enjoy. There's other types of food that they like too.

Here's Galatians 6 verse 6. It says, the 1 who receives instruction in the words should share all good things with their instructor. The 1 who receives instruction in the word, should share all good things with their instructor, or as the King James has it, let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teach us. Let him that is taught in the word, communicate unto him that teach us. And I can tell you, I think on behalf of all the teaching staff here, that the great the greatest joy of this job is hearing and seeing the word of God working in people's lives.

I would guess that would be true for the Sunday school workers who are out there teaching our young people now. It's true of the musicians who lead us in songs of praise each week, to think that God through the sermons and through the home group studies, and in the Sunday school, and through the songs, is changing people with the truth, is what we're in it for. That's what it's all about. You see, ultimately, of course, in the end, the well done of Jesus Christ. Is all that really matters.

But Paul doesn't seem to think that's the only encouragement. That people need. Double honor is not about salaries that are twice as high as the congregational average. Although we do have a members meeting coming up in June. And if you would like to propose that, then it wouldn't be an unwelcome suggestion.

That's not what he's saying. Instead of double honor, he's talking about a twofold honor. There is the financial support, but there's also a bag full of encouragement for the cattle. Who are trying to teach good things. And so that's pretty important.

Because I know that in a church this size, there will be times when you might not like the style of the person who's teaching, or they might from time to time put things in ways that irritate you, or maybe there are songs that you would like done in a slightly different way, But there is an honor due to the work. That's what he's saying. There's an honor that is due to the work. And so if your child has learned something in Sunday school, or if a song has blessed your heart with truth, or if a sermon has helped you to follow Christ more closely from time to time, do pass it on. That'll be good for your soul and it will encourage those who are trying to bring you the word.

How do we maintain healthy leadership? He says in verse 17 to 19 that elders ought to be honored properly. For that word ministry. Secondly, he also wants them to be treated fairly, honored properly, and treated fairly. Verse 19, if you have a look down with me, verse 19, he says, do not entertain an accusation against an elder, unless it is brought by 2 or 3 witnesses.

Do not entertain an accusation against an elder, Unless it is brought by 2 or 3 witnesses. Now, this does seem to be a charge of serious wrongdoing. It's not just a concern or a slight worry that you might have, it seems to be a charge that something really serious has gone wrong. The word is quite rare. It's only used 3 times in the new testament, once here, once in titus, and once in John 18 when Jesus is on trial.

And pilot comes out in John 18 and says, what charges are you bringing against this man? In other words, why is this court assembled? What serious things have you got to say about this man? And you can see it's serious in the verse. Do not entertain an accusation against an elder, unless it is brought by 2 or 3 witnesses, a claim that is this serious needs to be substantiated.

It doesn't end halfway through you notice. He doesn't say, do not entertain an accusation against an elder full stop. That can never happen. No 1 must ever bring a charge against an l. It doesn't say that.

He says, unless it is bought by 2 or 3 witnesses. And again, that doesn't literally mean that there must be 2 or 3 eyewitnesses to a thing before you can speak about it because that very well may be impossible. It may have only been witnessed by 1 person. It's not that there literally must be 2 or 3. According to 1 writer, there was a time in the middle ages, where the church protected its corrupt bishops.

By demanding that 72 witnesses be brought forth to confirm any accusation against 1 of them. There's sometimes just ludicrous, isn't it? No bishop is ever gonna get done. 72 eyewitnesses, before they will even entertain a thing. So this 2 or 3 number is not to dismiss the voice of 1.

But it does remind us that before a verdict is given, the true thought to be established. In verse 21, Paul says, Keep these instructions without partiality, which literally means without pre judging. Keep these instructions without pre judging. That's the idea. There should be a process in order to establish the truth.

See you imagine you're at work this week and you get there and the boss knocks on your door, you have to go in and see him. And he says, look, I'm afraid there's been an accusation made against you. We hear that you have been stealing from this company. In fact, when you go back to your desk, you will find your p 45 on the table. That's it.

It's over. 1 of the first things you would want to know is, where's the evidence? What process has has there been any process Is there been any evidence? Is that is that I've got my p 45 based on an accusation and I'm out the door to Montney's outlet, we'd be outraged by that. And so you see, Paul is not saying, yes, your elders need a special protection that none of the rest of you should have.

This process is something that we would all appreciate, isn't it? Calm and careful. Is this a rumor Or is it actually true? You might remember the case with Cliff Richard a few years ago, who was falsely accused of a historic offense that was said to have taken place in the eighties, and Clifford was never arrested for that offense. He was never found guilty.

He denied the claims, and there was never any evidence found, but the headlines were published as if he had been involved in a case like that, and he has said many times how devastating that was for him. Because the truth is, once an accusation like that is out of the can, It's very very hard to put back even if he's totally innocent and there was no truth in it at all. And he is now part of a campaign called fair which stands for falsely accused individuals for freedom. And it's an organization that is trying to stop headlines, which are based on nothing more than rumor or false accusations or personal vendettas, being splashed all over the front pages when there is nothing in them, they are totally untrue. Because lives are ruined by accusations like that.

And so verse 19 is just to say, Timothy, sometimes accusations are gonna come. And sadly, sometimes they're going to be true, but please don't let a ministry be ruined by gossip. The church is to be the pillar and foundation of the truth. It is not a treadmill for rumors. And so he says, take the time, hear an accusation, but establish the truth.

But what if the accusation proves to be true? Well, he comes to that in verse 20. But those elders who are sinning You are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. I charge you in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels to keep these instructions without partiality and to do nothing out of favoritism. Now, if Paul wanted to make that point any stronger, it'd be hard to know how he could.

Just look at it again. I charge you in the sight of God and of Christ Jesus. And the elect angels to keep these instructions without partiality. That's a weighty charge, isn't it? And with lots of these commands, you see that the temptation is revealed in the words.

You remember when Paul said do not rebuke an older man harshly. Why would he say that? Because that might be a temptation for younger men. They might want to rebuke harshly. They might enjoy scolding.

Instead of saying things properly. Treat younger women as sisters in all purity. And why would he say it like that? Because there's a temptation in there, Timothy. There's something buried in that command, treat them as sisters in all purity, Keep these instructions without partiality and do nothing with favoritism.

You see how the temptation is buried into command. Why would he say it like that? Because perhaps that would be a temptation for him. And you know how it works. There are so many examples of this in in the world.

I saw this week that BBC board members must now declare social events with cabinet ministers. After the after the Richard Sharp resignation, if you know about that, It's a new system where they say, look, if you as a BBC board member are going to be snuggling up with a cabinet member, then you need to declare that that's happening, you know, you need to declare those meetings. Now, of course, it might be that all of it's perfectly innocent but we know the reason for the instruction, don't we? We know why a law like that might be brought in because when the leaders of the national broadcaster and those who run the country snuggle up over private drinks, There is potential for things to be done in a disorderly way, things to be covered up and so forth. Partial reality, out of favoritism.

We've all heard stories like that and sadly, Even in some corners of the so called church, we've heard of things like that, haven't we? Cases of terrible abuse And when it's been investigated, what has been the defense? Why wasn't it dealt with? Well, it was the old boys club. You know, it was 1 of the lads.

That was the that was the culture. Around here. That was the way we that was the way we sort of did things. We want to rock the boat, didn't seem necessary, didn't want to make a fuss We sent him to another country, we sent him away, but actually better just to sort of let it all blow over. Just forget about it.

Proverbs 20 23 says, the Lord detests double standards. He is not pleased. By dishonest scales. Do nothing out of favoritism. Don't be partial to someone just because they happen to be your mate or a fellow leader.

And therefore, he's saying that when an accusation proves true, you are to rebuke it Timothy before everyone. So that others may take warning. Now, that may literally be everyone in the church. Or it may be that the others there are referring to the other elders, sometimes it might be both. But here's the point he's making.

In this sad case, It is not to be buried or dismissed or laughed off, but it is to be dealt with appropriately. It's a sad situation, and nobody wants it. I mean, Timothy we think had quite a nervous personality. And my goodness, he was probably reading this thinking, lord, I never I don't want I don't ever have to do something like that. But you see if the elders won't take the truth seriously.

Then in the end, it discredits the name of Christ in the world. We have become like the Hippocrits of chapter 4. Can we? You know, if we're into favoritism and we're into covering up, then can we really say that we believe all this stuff about sin and righteousness at all? I know it's weighty stuff, isn't it?

But verse 21 warrants this kind of talk. It's not a game. I charge you in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels to keep these instructions without partiality. And to do nothing out of favoritism. If Timothy is going to maintain healthy leaders and a vibrant witness, that matters.

That matters. They ought to be honored properly, and they ought to be treated fairly when they're accused wrongly. And when it proves to be true. Thirdly and lastly, elders must be appointed carefully. They must be appointed carefully.

You can see that in verse 22 to the end. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands. Which seems to be a way of recognizing a gift or an elder or a leader in the church. And do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.

Stop drinking only water and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. In other words, you're sort of saying, and after a charge like that, you might need a glass of wine. What is it about? It's a funny verse, isn't it? It doesn't really seem to fit with the rest of the context.

Then to be honest, either it's just a kind word to Timothy, you know, saying, look Timothy, you're going to be straining like an ox. This work of preaching and teaching is hard work. You've got to sort out who's vulnerable and who isn't. You may even have to rebuke an elder from time to time. That is the sort of work that might give you a stomach ulcer, might give you problems with your bowels, you might have all kinds of issues there, and so take a little wine to help with your frequent illnesses, or it might be that Timothy has actually begun to be influenced a bit by the false teaching.

Do you remember the start of chapter 4, the false teachers would say things like, you ought to abstain from things like wine, Just have very basic food, just drink water, less, less, less of the material world, and you'll be more spiritual. So it may be that Timothy has begun to fall for a little bit of that, which is why Paul says to him, Timothy, look, keep yourself pure. A little wine for your health is not in. You know, if you've got frequent stomach problems, then a little bit of wine might be good for you. Don't worry about it.

But the focus as you can see really is on these leaders. Verse 22, do not be hasty in the laying on of hands. Why not? Why not? Because of verse 24.

The sins of some are obvious reaching the place of judgment ahead of them. The sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever. 1 writer says that human beings are frequently different from what they appear at first sight. They may seem initially either better or worse than they really are.

For both their good points and their bad may take a while to surface. Therefore, time is needed in which to discover the truth about a candidate for the pastorate. Now, that doesn't mean that an elder must be 70 before he can serve, thoroughly examined over multiple decades. We know that can't be true, because Timothy was likely to be in his thirties. But he is saying, look, character always matters.

It always matters. It always matters. We saw that in chapter 3, didn't we? You know, what are the qualifications for being an elder? Well, very few have to do with gifts like teaching.

Most of them are about life and Godliness. You need to give it time to make sure that at work and in the home, and when they're at the pub, there is a general consistency in their life and their doctrine. And look, that takes time to find out. See, we are in a culture which values quick decisions no standing still, no dithering, make the call and stick with it. And sometimes, that might be fine.

But other times, more time and more space is needed. So Timothy, he's saying, look, these some of these candidates for elders, they might be experts in the law They might have a great family heritage. They might be powerful speakers, but just give it time. Because in the end, if you don't, you may end up having to deal with more accusations than you would like. It's all connected, you see.

If a sin is covered up in verse 21, what does it show? Sims are being covered up in the eldership. What does it show? Well, it shows that maybe gifts and personality matter more to them than character. Or if an elder is appointed too hastily.

It's only just come. Quick look, he's an elder. What might it show? But gifts and personality matter more than character. And he says, no.

Just give it time. Signs of some are obvious, others trail behind them likewise good deeds, you'll see them in the end. Just give it time. Give it time. That's the caution.

But the positive encouragement of that is that Timothy, if you and the fellow elders work like this, then generally speaking, there will be a lot less scandal. If there is a culture where this sort of thing matters, then those sorts of things can be avoided. And that is the point that I want us to end on because although this is serious stuff, Please will you see that it is fundamentally positive. It is positive teaching for the church. This is in the end about an assembly of the living God, where the word of God is the chief rule and guide for us all.

This is about life together under the bible. Paul is saying I want everybody from your most seasoned elder to your newest member through the door, to love the bible, and to live under the bible, and to operate under the bible. Because when that is true, you will not have a fish rotting from the head down. Instead, you will have life and flourishing and care for the vulnerable and all these wonderful things that Paul is spoke about. It's a positive vision he's giving for the church here.

And so for the health of this church, And for our witness to the world around us, would you agree to pray that the elders would be honored properly treated fairly and appointed carefully. Or in other words, would you pray that they would keep close to the Lord Jesus Christ, who directs his church wonderfully. This is why this is the wonderful thing that In the end, this is why the church universal is always gonna be safe because there is no rot in its head. The head of this church is beautifully, gloriously, healthy forever, and therefore the church succeeds. He directs us wonderfully.

He speaks to us faithfully. He never shows favoritism. Ever hates favoritism. He never shows it. And he has kept himself pure for our sake.

The savior and the elder and the example that we need, is the Lord Jesus Christ. And so let us pray that we would all remain close to him. I'll just give you a moment a quiet And then I'll hand over to Pete. I charge you. In the summit of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality and to do nothing out of favoritism.

Father God help us, please. Those of us that are elders in this church We pray that you would help us to submit to you the great head, the 1 that never goes rotten, the 1 that speaks the truth without favoritism or partiality. The 1 that is full of life and goodness the 1 who is our great example of service. The 1 who gave his life or his people. We pray please that you would make elders in this church and the leaders in this church more and more like him.

Save us from scandal we pray. It's so vicious in what it does to our lovely lord Jesus, and we're so sorry that when we hear people that fall in such public ways and what harm it does Please help us protect us. Causes us to be people of the word. Cause all of us as a church to be brothers and sisters caring for each other, speaking to 1 another as family members, encouraging each other in the in the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Word of God to live for your glory. Father we're tempted in different ways.

There's evil desires within our hearts that pull us 1 way or the other, help us as brothers and sisters, to encourage each other, to point to Jesus, to love and care and serve like the Lord Jesus Christ, we pray. Help us We've lost that vision to recommit ourselves. Right now, to the vision of Jesus and serving the saints we pray. Help us to do that. Thank you for the word.

Thank you for Tom. Thank you for his thinking and studying and planning and reading and and we pray that your holy spirit will apply that word deep into our souls and hearts. Those that are drifting, please bring back Those that are perhaps involved in sins that are obvious and judgment is going before them or sins that are trailing behind them. Bring them back, we pray. Bring them back to the lord Jesus that we may serve him together and love him together and have that great hope of the new life in heaven.

So help us we pray in Jesus' name, amen.

Preached by Tom Sweatman
Tom Sweatman photo

Tom is an Assistant Pastor at Cornerstone and lives in Kingston with his wife Laura and their two children.

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