Jump Start # 2123
1 Timothy 5:19 “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.”
These past couple of days we have been looking at the topic of shepherding. The role of elders is a valuable and important part of God’s church. Every church ought to work to develop men who are willing, capable and able to serve and lead the people of God. This is incredible work.
There is one component that needs to be mentioned, found in our verse today, the accusations against an elder. Those in the role of leading God’s people are in an honorable position and we are to respect the that. We recall the time when David was hiding in a cave from wicked King Saul. David had the opportunity to kill Saul, but he wouldn’t. He respected the position of God’s anointed. Although Saul was a terrible and selfish leader, the position is what David honored. The role of elders is something chosen by God through the Scriptures. We need to respect and honor that role as well.
So, in our verse, Timothy, the preacher, is told not to receive an accusation against an elder unless there is proof by several witnesses. This is a common idea seen in the O.T. It keeps one fool from making false and empty charges. He best back it up and he best have some proof. If an elder has sinned, it will be dealt with. There is a Biblical manner for this in the following verses.
Now, peel the layers off here. Timothy was not to receive accusations without witnesses. DO NOT. How many times has this been violated. Get a group of Christians together in the home, and after dinner, the conversation turns to how wrong and how terrible the elders are. No one brings a formal accusation. They just turn the moment into a feeding frenzy. How excited everyone is to jump on the pile and to add their own complaints. “We don’t like this,” and “we don’t like that.” Not once, never does the DO NOT command of this passage enter anyone’s mind. They mock and trash talk men who are giving up hours of their time to help these very people get to Heaven. No one thinks to say a prayer in their behalf. No one thinks to spend the time complimenting these noble men. No, it’s dump time. These things happen all too often.
Here are some things to keep before us.
First, often, very often, there are many, many things that have taken place that the eldership is involved in and the rest of the congregation has no clue. This is not like the Mueller investigation in which all the reports and all the papers are to be shared with the public, especially the media. The elders are working with people. Many times they are working through problems. We hear only part of the story. We may hear what a weak Christian who is not serious about things says. He’s upset. He unloads on any listening ears. These godly men are trying to protect both the church and the person that they are working with. Most forget this. And, there we sit on a Friday night with our friends, some of whom are not even Christians, and we shoot down the elders without even knowing what we are talking about. The church is not a democracy. Some things are not our business. The reason why the elders are in the roles that they are is because we trust them to be godly, spiritual men who are experienced. It is so easy to be a back seat driver or that arm chair quarterback. We sit at home watching a ballgame on TV and we rant and rave about some player when we can’t even get up and get to the frig without becoming winded. Be careful with what you say. Hurling darts discourages others. It hurts the church. It puts you in the realm of a gossip. It will never bring someone to Christ. And, it’s wrong!
Second, we must pay closer attention to this DO NOT that is attached to our verse. If an elder sins, there is a path to follow. These verses lead up to that. This is connected to the witnesses to verify what is being charged. But without those witnesses and without any sin being committed, most often our grumbling about the elders comes from nothing more than “I’d do it differently.” And, much too often, we see things only from our own perspective and we fail to consider all the others that are involved. The elders haven’t failed to see that. They are mindful of everyone. Those that are so quick to shoot down elders, I have found, are the very ones who never teach, never volunteer, and never do much of anything. They are quick to shoot off their mouths but they do very little to add value to the kingdom of God. They are discouragers. And in violating this DO NOT, they are sinning. God protects His leaders. He will not tolerate us taking cheap shots at them. Do we realize this is wrong? This needs to stop.
Third, Proverbs tells us that one of the things God hates is those that sow discord among brethren. God hates that. Discord spreads the fastest when a group gets together to sing the sad song about how terrible everything is. One thing I have noticed about every church building I have ever been in, and I have been in tons of church buildings, is that they all have a front door. If you are not happy, leave. Don’t sit around and try to make others miserable with you. Don’t try to get a club of disgruntled folks to follow you. That’s discord. That’s bordering on division. The sins are starting to accumulate.
When a person is violating this DO NOT, they need to be warned. They are disobeying God. If they persist, their name ought to be taken before the church publicly. If they persist, fellowship ought to be removed. Do you see how serious this is? For decades, we have remained silent about this. We probably would have thrown the spear at Saul, had we been in David’s shoes. We have not honored God’s anointed. We have thrown elder after elder under the bus. We have encouraged others to join us in disobeying this command. DO NOT means DO NOT.
If there is a problem, deal with it in a Biblical manner, according to the Biblical pattern. If one will not do that, then hush. If they will not hush, then they ought and should reap the consequences of disobeying God’s command.
Could it be that some do not desire to be elders because they have witnessed this command being violated over and over. They have sat and heard how others have talked so cruelly about their fellow brethren and God’s leaders. Could it be that they want no part of that because of the harsh and mean way brethren have talked about their leaders? It’s time for all of this to end. It’s time we got our lives right with the Lord. This sin, yes, it is a sin, may keep you from Heaven.
Instead of insulting God’s leaders, why don’t you help them? You help them by believing in them and trusting them. You help them by ending all of this ugly talk about them. When you hear someone starting, remind them, you best have witnesses and you best take it to the preacher as the Bible says, or you are sinning. If they persist, remind them that you have an obligation to point out sin. You help them by praying for them. You help them by living as we are supposed to. You help them by encouraging them. You help them by using your abilities to strengthen the kingdom. You help them by letting them know you stand with them and you support them.
May God forgive us for the times we have violated this DO NOT passage. May God forgive us for speaking wrongly about things we do not understand. May God forgive us for hurting the very people who are trying to help us. May God forgive us for being discouragers rather than encouragers.
DO NOT—do you think you get this?