Sermon – September 1, 2019
God cares about how we interact with authorities in our lives, and true Christian obedience adorns the gospel and glorifies God. The passage today outlines the ways in which God expects us to interact with authority.
1. Respect Elders (5:17-19)
Both the context and the quotes provided by Paul indicate that his instructions about “double honor” here refer to monetary compensation for elders who excel at preaching and teaching. While there are many preachers who fleece their flocks, and excel only at excess, this does not mean that other churches should compensate for the sins of others by short-changing their pastor in a short-sided attempt to keep them poor and humble. Pastors who serve their flock well deserve to be paid in accordance with the fruit that their ministries provide.
2. Rebuke Sin (5:20-25)
While Paul wants Pastors to be honored, he knows perfectly well that they are not free from sin. Yet, because of their position, they are possibly susceptible to sensational attacks without merit. For that reason, they are to be held to a high standard, but frivolous accusations that come without the proper support are not to be listened to. Yet, Timothy is warned – both good works and sin will be found out, whether done conspicuously or not. What is hidden will be brought to light. Therefore, pastor, keep yourself pure!
3. Revere Leaders (6:1-2)
The first thing to mention about this text is the very different nature of slavery from the first century context and the American context. This passage is more accurately reflected in our employer/employee relationship. Friends, let us work hard for those put in authority over us. Let us not work any less hard for those who are Christian, and take advantage of their kindness and mercy. But rather, to uphold the faith and to honor Jesus, let us work even harder for them!
All of these things can seem like random rules that Paul wants Timothy to apply. But they all flow out of the one gospel: that Jesus was sent to us to save sinners. Now that we are saved, we have the responsibility to organize our lives differently, trusting in the Lordship of Jesus over all things. So both honor the gospel and the Lord!