Theme: Serving God, Who Sees All
In this week’s lessons, we see how Christians are to regard and treat one another in the church.
Scripture: 1 Timothy 5:1-3
Paul also charges Timothy to take care in choosing leaders. Don’t choose novices for church leadership. They need to be tested over time as to their doctrine and spiritual maturity. Don’t be so quick to make someone a church leader simply because he is successful in his secular work, or because he is attending every church event from the moment he arrives, or because he has a winsome and outgoing personality. The church would be so much healthier if people would just follow what Paul tells Timothy.
The third area is for Timothy to take care of himself. The specific example has to do with Timothy’s ailments, where Paul tells him to use a little wine because of his stomach. Some people who like to drink have appealed to this verse. Even non-Christians who do not know where it is found still may be familiar with it. Now it is true that Paul is not laying down laws against alcohol, since he is telling Timothy to drink some here for the sake of his stomach. But it’s quite obvious to anyone who reads this that it is not an excuse for self-indulgence with alcoholic beverages. Paul is simply telling Timothy to take care of his health because he is going to need it for his ministry.
Finally, we come to the fourth point, which is to take no care for the outcome. He’s talking about sins and good deeds. Where sin is concerned, some people sin in an open way, or they sin in a quiet way. When they sin in an open way and get caught, judgment comes and everybody’s aware of what they’ve done. But, Paul says, you know perfectly well that there are people who do equally bad things and who hide it away, and people never find out about it. But even though other people don’t know about it, it will be exposed in the end when judgment comes.
If that is true of those who do evil, that is also true of those who do good. Some do good deeds, and because of who they are or what they have done, their conduct runs before them. Everyone finds out about it, and they are praised for their philanthropy or bold action. In cases like these, they have their reward already. But don’t forget about the good deeds that are hidden because they are done in a quiet way. Nobody hears about it, and consequently there are no public announcements made or commendations given. Such people are still serving the Lord, but without anyone except God knowing what they do. Just as the Lord will not overlook whatever evil is done that nobody else knows about, so the Lord will also not ignore all the good that is done in quiet ways, to the blessing of other people and to the glory of Christ.
On one occasion, Jesus and the disciples were in the temple, and they were observing the money various people were contributing. All of these wealthy men were going in and putting in their large amounts. People of course could see that they were giving a great deal, and maybe they could even hear the sound of all those coins. I imagine that those in the temple were impressed at the generosity of the wealthy.
And then this widow came along, and she had two mites. A mite was the smallest coin there was, hardly worth anything at all. She dropped them in, probably making a quick and slight sound you could barely hear at all. No one would have noticed the offering she gave. But the Lord heard it, you see, and he noticed. Moreover, he noticed that it wasn’t just one mite; it was two. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on” (Mark 12:43-44).
How are we going to live in this life? Are we going to live for the outward show? Are we going to live for the world, and for the recognition that the world can give? Or are we going to live for God, who sees the heart and who rewards those who serve him—whatever it may be, however small, as long as it’s done in his name? A day of reckoning is going to come.
Years ago out in the Midwest, there was a farmer who was an unbeliever. All during the summer, when the godly people in the community went to church, he used to go back and forth in his tractor on the farm right across the road from the church building. They’d be sitting there in the morning service. It would be hot, and all the windows would be open. As the preacher was delivering his sermon, there would be this unbelieving farmer on his loud tractor as went up one row and back down the other, row after row, all summer long.
At the end of the summer, after the crops were gathered in, the farmer wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper of the town in which he was living. He pointed out that he had not gone to church on Sundays, but instead had spent the time plowing his fields and harvesting his corn. At the end of the summer, his yields, because of the extra days’ work he put in, were greater. His profits were larger than those of the godly people who went to church. And the editor of the paper, who was apparently a believer and who had good common sense, added a little note that followed the farmer’s letter. The editor said, “God does not settle his accounts in October.” No, God does not settle them in October, nor September, nor August, nor even in November. But he does settle them. I want to stand before his face one day, not as one who had the acclaim of the world, but as one who served the King of kings. And I want him to say to me, “Well done, well done.”
How do you choose good church leaders?
Explain the fourth point Paul makes to Timothy.
Application: Do you serve the Lord with a humble spirit that does not look for human praise?
Prayer: Is your church going through a pastoral search, or even simply in need of good elders? Pray for wisdom and guidance from the Lord to make his will clear in these areas.