Jump Start # 2828
1 Timothy 5:1 “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers.”
Life has a wonderful way of opening your eyes to God’s amazing word. For years and years I have looked at this verse from the standpoint of Timothy, a younger man. There were many older brethren in my life and I saw the value of what the apostle told Timothy. There are times when age doesn’t give one a pass on right or wrong. Someone said something wrong. Someone did something wrong. Paul’s words are directed towards the manner in which one is corrected.
But, now, I stand in line with that older man in our passage. I’m no longer considered a young man. And, with that there are some things for us to see.
First, we should want all of us to do what is right. Consistency is hard. Some get stuck in their ways and do not want to change. Some have thought a lie was actually true. Eve did. So, what we pull from this passage is that Timothy wasn’t the in-house church policeman who corrected everything that was wrong. That leads to a condemning and judgmental spirit. Rather, Timothy saw an older brother doing something wrong. He could look the other way, but that wouldn’t help this older person. He would only remain in his sin. Timothy could think it wasn’t his place because of his age. But, he loved this person so much that he felt compelled to help him.
Second, Paul presents both a negative and a positive in this passage. The negative is, “Do not sharply rebuke.” The “sharply” is left out of most translations. “Sharply” carries the idea of daggers. It’s pointed, possibly harsh and maybe lacking kindness. Throughout the N.T. the idea of correcting with gentleness are often found together. Paul did not say, “leave it alone.” He did not intend for Timothy to walk away. He was supposed to approach this older Christian, but not with guns blazing.
The positive is appeal to him as a father. Rebuke contrasted with appeal. Older man contrasted with father. The positive instruction sounds like a conversation that is filled with love. The direction is to help this older person, not get on his back.
Third, this is something that is certainly missing in our culture today. No one pays attention to age. If someone disagrees with you or thinks that you are wrong, you’ll get a blast from the car horn, a chewing out in public, and a confrontation that most times will leave the older person shaking and scared. It shouldn’t be this way. We’ve lost respect for age and experience. A younger society doesn’t have much patience or room for an older generation. And, that may define the times we live in, however, it must be different in the church. Our times and our culture doesn’t have much place in the kingdom of God. There needs to be a respect for the differences in generations. Some are no longer able to do what they once did, but their experience, wisdom and miles and miles of service ought to bring some kindness, patience and love from our hearts. Where would we be today without what these dear brethren have done for us and the kingdom.
Fourth, those of us that now fall in that category of “older” brethren, need to understand that we are not beyond poor judgment, a lack of patience, being grumpy and just against all things different and new. Modern technology moves fast. It allows us to send God’s word worldwide. Things are done differently today and that does not mean that things are wrong. The two are not necessarily the same. What was done decades ago may not be the best or most efficient way today. Our passage implies more than a dislike of technology, but something that was done that was wrong. The wrong was done by the older brother. A rebuke is necessary. It will be given as an appeal. Don’t ever think, we older folks cannot do wrong anymore. We certainly can. And, when someone younger wants to point that out to us, don’t chew them out and make matters worse by having an uppity attitude. Listen. Consider. Thank the young Timothy for loving you so much that they want you to do what is right. We ought to welcome the a warm and wonderful relationship between the different generations in the congregation.
Finally, this passage reminds us that we need all of us in the kingdom. Together we help each other. Together we are in this for the long haul. Together we will make it. The younger helping the older and the older helping the younger. What a powerful team work this makes. Helping each other. Looking out for each other. Supporting each other. Encouraging each other. This is a spirit that truly makes a church a family. The young are not waiting to bust out and start their own congregation. The older do not feel that they are overlooked, unwanted and cast out. Not at all. Energy and experience. Passion and wisdom. Love and love. Younger and older—that’s the way it ought to be. And, when one fumbles, the other helps him pick the ball back up. Appealing to a father, not sharply destroying.
Sure wish our culture understood this. It won’t. At least, God’s people will.