8/6/17 The Question Of Christian Slaves

“We know, as followers of Jesus, that we are all equal in the sight of God.  There is no difference in Heaven between man or woman, slave or free, Jew or Gentile.  God holds no prejudices, nor does He show favoritism.  However, we live in a society that is the exact opposite, and one that is growing more and more hostile to Christians.  It is unwise to stir up these hostilities further by insisting on changing established customs too drastically.  Therefore, at least for the time being, anyone who is a slave is to remain so unless freed by his master, and is to honor and work hard for his master as if working for God.  There are some Christians who own Christian slaves.  Many believe that this is abhorrent, but this is not the time to overturn the practice of slavery.  Christian slaves to Christian masters should take the attitude that the work they do for their masters is beneficial to their brothers and sisters, and so to God.  Remember that whatever we are doing, in whatever capacity, we are to work at it with all our hearts, as if our work is a gift for God.  In this way, we are glorifying God through our work and serving as light to those who are still in the darkness of sin.  Teach this to the brothers and sisters of the Ephesian church, and encourage them to live in this way.”

 

1 Timothy 6:1-2

 

“It was perhaps the most perplexing of all the questions Christianity had to face—this one of slavery. It entered into all grades and ranks. It was common to all peoples and nations. The very fabric of society seemed knit and bound together by this miserable institution. War and commerce were equally responsible for slavery in the Old World. To attempt to uproot it—to preach against it—to represent it in public teaching as hateful to God, shameful to man—would have been to preach and to teach rebellion and revolution in its darkest and most violent form. It was indeed the curse of the world; but the Master and His chosen servants took their own course and their own time to clear it away. Jesus Christ and His disciples, such as St. Paul and St. John, left society as they found it, uprooting no ancient landmarks, alarming no ancient prejudices, content to live in the world as it was, and to do its work as they found it—trusting, by a new and lovely example, slowly and surely to raise men to a higher level, knowing well that at last, by force of unselfishness, loving self-denial, brave patience, the old curses—such as slavery—would be driven from the world. Surely the result, so far, has not disappointed the hopes of the first teachers of Christianity.”

http://www.biblehub.com/commentaries/1_timothy/6-1.htm, Ellicott

8/5/17 Final Thoughts On Church Leadership

“This charge that I have laid on you before God, our Messiah Jesus, and God’s Holy angels, is a heavy one.  It is a great responsibility for someone as young as you, but one that I believe you are fully capable of handling well.  Be certain that you follow my leading without showing any favoritism for or bias against anyone.  Keep yourself away from sin and apart from the sins of others.  Don’t be quick to promote anyone to the position of church leader, but test each person carefully to be certain he is qualified and ready to fulfill the duties required.  I know that among the brothers and sisters there in Ephesus there are many who came from the Essene sect of Jews, and that they have a well-known practice of abstinence from wine, which has also been adopted by many others in Ephesus.  But you know that your digestive health has not been good, so I want to make sure you do not adopt this practice as well.  You need a little wine in your diet to help your stomach and your other physical ailments.  You need to keep yourself healthy and strong in order to fulfill your duties to the church.  And I want you to remember, when choosing candidates for church leadership, or even church membership, that there are those people whose sins are done openly for all to see, and then there are those who sin secretly and who are adept at hiding all traces of their sin.  You need to learn how to read people and to pick up on small hints of sin that may present themselves so that you can judge people rightly.”

 

1 Timothy 5:22-25

8/4/17 Rewards & Punishments For Church Leaders

“Honor those church leaders – bishops, deacons, pastors – who do their jobs exceptionally well, especially those who are gifted in the areas of teaching and preaching.  They are worthy of a double honor.  In the Scriptures, the book of Deuteronomy tells us, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,’ meaning that an animal that is working for you shouldn’t be kept from eating part of the grain it is working on as a reward.  Should this not apply even more to people who are working hard for others?  Remember that Jesus told us, ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages,’ no matter what form of labor he is employed in.  Church leaders have a very vital, but difficult and dangerous job, especially in this current time of increased persecution of Christians.  Those who do their jobs well should be recognized for it, if only to boost their morale and help them to continue on in the same manner.  On the other hand, those who are abusing their position, those who are proved to be committing sinful acts must be called out publicly and their punishment must be more severe than usual, because of their position and the immense damage they can cause by abusing it.  They must be punished publicly and severely to show how serious the offense is and to strike fear into the hearts of those who might have followed him into sin.  You must be certain, though, before taking any accusation against a church leader seriously.  Many people will come to you with accusations against this leader or that one for all sorts of reasons.  People are often jealous and spiteful of those in authority over them.  I want you to be careful not to take any accusation against church leaders seriously unless it is corroborated by at least two or three witnesses.”

 

1 Timothy 5:17-21, Deuteronomy 25:4, Luke 10:7

8/3/17 AARP For Widows

“The age requirement of sixty years or older is a very important one.  Younger widows, especially those who have been recently widowed and new in the faith, are often eager to join such a group, hoping to find the fulfillment and sense of family that they are lacking.  But as time passes, their passion for the work required of them fades.  They see other women their age married and raising children, and they long for the chance to do that themselves.  They begin to look at this work that they entered into so eagerly as a nuisance that is holding them back from pursuing the life they dream of.  They begin to be lazy in their work, neglecting the things they promised to do in favor of daydreaming and gossiping.  And when the opportunity presents itself, they will abandon this work that they committed to in favor of marriage and their own children to raise.  This will leave the group short-handed, and will also be a poor example for others, especially unbelievers and new believers.  For these reasons, younger widows ought to seek to remarry and raise their own children.  When they busy themselves taking care of their own households, they do not leave the door to their hearts open to Satan.  And remember, it is the duty of everyone to take care of their own family, especially if they are related to women who have been widowed, so that the church can focus on caring for those widows who have no one to help them.”

 

1 Timothy 5:11-16

8/2/17 A Special Group Of Special Widows

“There is a special group of widows throughout the churches who help to counsel and care for younger widows.  These are women who are sixty years old or older, who were faithful to their husbands while they were married, and had good reputations in their former communities, even before becoming followers of Jesus.  They should be well-known for their kindness and willingness to work hard to help wherever needed.  They should be patient and loving, good care-givers for children, hospitable and welcoming to friends and strangers alike.  They should be unafraid to jump in and do whatever work they are called to do out of love, whether it means cooking for brothers and sisters or caring for a stranger with a deadly, contagious disease.  They should be kind and encouraging to all, so that they can be friends and sisters to all those who are in need of comfort.  They should be known for their love and selflessness, bravery and patience, care and diligence, and, above all else, their faithfulness to Jesus.  If there are widows in the Ephesian community who meet these qualifications, then let them join this group so that younger women will have them to look up to as mentors.”

 

1 Timothy 5:9-10

8/1/17 Responsibility of a Widow

“There are different kinds of widows, of course.  Some abandon their values, along with all self-control and discipline and self-respect, choosing instead a life of sexual promiscuity.  Unfortunately, many of these widows believe that they have no other choice, that this is the only way they will be able to support themselves.  But those who choose such a life are like living corpses, their bodies alive, but their spirits already dead.  Widows among you who choose such a life cannot be supported financially by the church, because they are living contrary to the teachings of Jesus.  Those widows, on the other hand, who keep their faith in God and in Jesus, who continue to live as they had before their husbands died, upholding the values of their faith and constantly seeking God’s will in prayer, these are the widows the church is to support, as long as there is no family able to do it.  Teach these things to all the brothers and sisters in the church, so that everyone knows what is expected of widows and any family they might have, and how the church will be supporting true widows – those who are truly left alone without any other means of support – financially.  Knowing what is expected of them, and the help that will be given to those who are living in faith, will help widows to have the confidence to live in faith, instead of choosing a life that leads only to death.  Remind the brothers and sisters of their duty to support their own family, and that if they do not do so they are turning away from their faith, which is worse than being an unbeliever.”

 

1 Timothy 5:5-8

7/31/17 Honor And Support Widows

“Our Messiah has taught us to treat women very differently from the way society in general has treated them.  We are to honor and respect them as mothers or sisters, especially those who are widows.  Most widows are left helpless and must make do in the world as best they can, scraping together whatever they can sell to make enough money to live on.  But we are called to support each other as members of God’s family, especially widows and orphaned children.  We are to honor them and care for them as if they are our own mothers and our own children.  However, if a widow has children or grandchildren, any family able to support her, we must let them do it, for two main reasons.  First, our funds must be prioritized so that we may do the most good we can with them.  Those who have nothing and no one to help them must be put first.  And second, it is good for a widow’s family to support her.  In this way, they learn the responsibility of taking care of one’s family first, and they will be blessed through the love and care they show for her.”

 

1 Timothy 5:3-4

7/30/17 Relationships Within The Church

“Now that we have spoken of your public office as church leader, and the conduct and responsibilities as such, let us move on to discuss your relationships with individual members of the church.  Having advised you not to let anyone tell you that you are too young to hold such an important position in the church, I must caution you to remember, when dealing with brothers and sisters who are older than you are, to hold them in high regard.  There will be many times when you see elder church members doing and saying things that are not quite in line with their faith.  I want you to be mindful of the fact that you have been a Christian since your youth, and as such, have been brought up in the way a Christian is to live his life.  But many of the elder members of the church have lived their whole lives as unbelievers, following the customs and traditions of the society in which they live, until coming to faith in Jesus fairly recently.  Be patient with them, and instead of chastising them for these habits that have been ingrained in them for a lifetime already, give them gentle and respectful direction, as a son might do for his father or mother.  Likewise, you should treat younger men and women, or those of your own age, as brothers and sisters, not just in the way that we are all brothers and sisters in Jesus, but as if they were of your biological family.”

 

1 Timothy 5:1-2

7/29/17 Instructions For Timothy’s Conduct

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you are too young to hold such an important position in the church.  Use your life to demonstrate your worth, working hard to live out your faith in all that you say and do.  Show the strength of your faith in the way that you love those you serve, in your pure heart, in your obedience to God’s will as revealed to you by His Holy Spirit, and in your actions.  In this way, you will both prove yourself worthy of your office and be an example to the brothers and sisters of the way we ought to live as Christians.  Until I am able to come to you again, be sure to incorporate reading of scripture, along with earnest teaching on the meaning of the scriptures read, into each meeting of the brothers and sisters.  This way, everyone can understand and apply what they learn to their lives.  Remember the gift that was given to you through prophecy , when the church elders laid their hands on you and prayed over you, and be sure to use it to God’s will.  Think about these things, and practice them persistently, so that your gift may grow and be respected by all, and be used to further God’s kingdom.  Be sure to remember these two most important things – to always conduct yourself in a way befitting a leader in the church, and to make sure your teaching is exemplary.  If you are faithful in this, you and all those who hear your teaching will be rewarded in Heaven.”

 

1 Timothy 4:12-16

7/28/17 Stay Strong In Your Faith And You Will Be Rewarded

“Timothy, my son, if you will faithfully teach the brothers and sisters of Ephesus all these things, you will be honored as a good minister of Jesus, continually seeking after God’s will through studying His word and exercising your faith, which is like nourishment for the soul.  I know that you have done this ever since you first came to faith in Jesus, and I pray that you will continue in this way for the rest of your life.  Stay away from gossip and anything that will tempt you away from your faith, and keep to what you know is right in God’s sight.  When you exercise your body, you will be physically more healthy.  But when you exercise your love and obedience to God, it is so much better, because it benefits every part of you and those who depend on you, and you have the promise of eternal life in Heaven as your reward.  Here is another saying you may have heard that rings with truth:  It is for this, the promise of Heaven, that we struggle and fight for our faith, willing to endure anything  for the sake of the living God, Savior of all, in Whom we trust and believe.  Teach the brothers and sisters to live out their faith, to be doers of the word and not just hearers.  This is a command for all of us.”

 

1 Timothy 4:6-11