Jump Start # 2613
1 Corinthians 16:10 “Now if Timothy comes, see that he is with you without cause to be afraid; for he is doing the Lord’s work, as I also am.”
Timothy is coming! That would have been exciting for the Corinthians. Timothy was young. Timothy knew the word of God. He would do so much good for the Corinthians. But Paul adds, “see that he is with you without cause to be afraid”. A scared preacher isn’t effective. A scared preacher will steer clear of topics that need to be addressed. A scared preacher plays it safe. That’s not what the Corinthians needed. They needed a preacher to tell them the truth. They needed boldness, courage and a confidence in the word of the Lord.
What would scare Timothy? In the next verse, Paul warns the Corinthians not to “despise” Timothy. That word comes up again in Paul’s letter to Timothy. There he said, “Let no man despise your youth.” What might scare Timothy were the Corinthian brethren. It’s easy to allow age to become a power weapon. What can a young guy tell us? He doesn’t know anything. Age plus pride is all it takes for ears to close and a power struggle to begin. So, before Timothy arrives, Paul is telling the Corinthians to behave. Don’t let Timothy be afraid.
Now this makes us think about ourselves. Are there things that we do that might cause other brethren to be afraid of us? If that atmosphere develops, then the ‘family’ concept of the church is gone. Now, what are some things that people may be afraid of?
First, the shepherds or elders. They are supposed to be among us and help us. They are to lead us. They are to know us, love us and care for us. In a healthy congregation there should be no fear. But when things are not healthy, the fear level rises. When the elders want to talk to you, some may see that as going to the principal’s office. The first reaction is “what did I do wrong?” Rather than a light, enjoyable, beneficial chit chat to connect better and see how they can help you, much fear and anxiety develops. The way to eliminate fear, is by becoming approachable and by having many experiences with the sheep that are social, fun and encouraging. When no relationship exists, then fear is a natural feeling.
Second, the preacher. Some are afraid to ask a question in class because they fear the preacher will make them look like the village idiot for even asking. They feel intimidated because they believe the preacher knows so much and they know so little. Those that have advanced degrees in Biblical studies or languages can even put more fear in asking a question. But rather than being afraid, folks ought to use that wonderful blessing and resource around them. Now, how the preacher answers the question, can make things worse or it can put people at ease. We need to be comfortable around each other and be ourselves.
Third, the different generations. The older were to instruct the younger, Titus was told. To do that, there must be a common love, understanding and atmosphere for that to work. Things change. The old way is not always the best way. The older folks can learn from the younger. It’s a two way street. Having a wonderful open and kind fellowship where young moms can ask the empty nesters advice only helps. But if the older ones sigh, roll their eyes, and mumble things under their breath, then a distance will be created among them. It shouldn’t be that way. Within the church family we ought to have adoptive moms and grandmas who are willing to help others. There are a lot of people who have never been taught how to do things. Asking for advice will only work if it is not perceived as a big bother and inconvenience.
Finally, fear should never exist within our fellowship. We will never ask for advice, help or confess sins if we are afraid. Some are afraid of getting a tongue lashing or a stern lecture. So, in silence we journey on. Our fellowship becomes superficial and artificial. The true feelings can never be expressed. Open dialogue and discussion never takes place. One is afraid to disagree, even though he does disagree. Certain topics are viewed as off limits. Suspicion is cast upon one’s faith if they do not line up with everyone else. This is a unhealthy, dysfunctional way to be together. The one mind, one voice of the New Testament does not actually exist when one is fearful and intimidated. And, so sadly, what too often happens is that the fearful person gets to a point where he can’t take it any more. He explodes. Then, he leaves. Those that remain write it off as a faith issue. Nothing changes. No good comes from it. How better it would have been to have some open discussion with open Bibles. Maybe a teaching moment would have shown the person why the church does what it does. Maybe some areas of neglect would be brought to the front and changes would be made for the better. But as it is, fear keeps the lid on our mouths.
Don’t let Timothy be afraid. I expect later on Paul would ask Timothy about his Corinthian experience. If the Corinthians didn’t behave, Paul would likely let them have it. They were warned. Timothy was doing God’s work. Don’t let his age fool you. He knows what he is talking about. Don’t be so proud that you can’t change.
Good words then and good words for now. Let’s eliminate the fear factor among us. Love ought to abound. No one should be afraid of coming home, as the prodigal did. No one should be afraid to ask for help. No one should have to be grilled and receive the third degree treatment for confessing wrongs. No one should feel afraid to say, “I don’t understand,” or, “I don’t see what you are saying.” We are in this together and let us act that way.