1 TIMOTHY 5
1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;
2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
The relationship in the Truth is a close, personal, family relationship -- that is, it should attain to the mutually affectionate and tender ideal that family relationship should be, though often sadly is not.
Relationship in the Truth is not a cold, impersonal, critical business or mere technical relationship. There MUST be a deep, personal, living feeling and closeness.
If there is, the necessary mutual reproof and correction will be gently offered and lovingly accepted. Pointing out where we feel others are wrong is often necessary and often a duty. Done in the right spirit, it is an evidence of love and care.
BUT -- it is one of the hardest, if not THE hardest, thing to do RIGHT -- in the Spirit and not in the flesh. Fleshly fault-finding comes so easily and naturally to all.
First of all, we should so live all the time, and have such a continuous and strong relationship of affection and understanding among us, that reproof could be given and received with perfect freedom in the spirit of love. This is an ideal never fully attained but earnestly to be striven for. *
ARE sisters' classes a blessing?
Yes, when they are properly managed and enthusiastically supported. The objections which are sometimes raised against these classes are founded on misconception. Women, it is said, ought not to speak in the ecclesia. True, but a sisters' class is not the ecclesia. It is a private gathering of sisters.
Can this be wrong, particularly when the object of the gathering is spiritual upbuilding and comfort? What would Christ say? What would Paul say? The little incident respecting Martha and Mary suggests what the Master would reply, and Tit. 2:3, 4, reveals what the answer of his worthy apostle would be.
Again, it is quite wrong to say that the classes are calculated to create in sisters the unscriptural spirit of the age as touching public speaking. As one who has watched with interest and pleasure the sixteen years' growth and influence for good of the class held in South London, the writer can say that the fear in this direction is groundless.
Those who have faithfully plodded away at the work connected with this class have not been found to be noisy, cantankerous, or obstructors of anything that is of real service to the truth. On the contrary, they are among those who have been first and foremost in every good work-in supporting the meetings, in distributing lecture cards and leaflets, in visiting the absent and sick.
Let us not throw cold water on these classes. Among the blessings that accrue from them is the incentive that they form to Bible study. We want more enlightenment and more spiritual-mindedness among our sisters (not that the brethren are perfect in this respect, far from it).
Women are not cyphers, They exercise a potent influence for good or evil, both in the home and in the ecclesia. Let us not deprive them of any help that tends to make them what God would desire them to be. Let husbands be kind and considerate, and, if possible, contrive a way by which their wives can attend these classes.
At any rate, let them not ridicule or wrongly criticise. Let those brethren who can only say nasty things about these classes, examine themselves, and see that they are not actuated by selfishness, envy, jealousy, or a disrelish to have their own pleasure in some way or other curtailed.
If our wives can outstrip us in ability and usefulness, let us rejoice, and not show ourselves disagreeable and unkind, as has been the case with the seed of the serpent all along the ages.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, May 1910
3 Honour widows that are widows indeed.
4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
How should the aged and dependent be cared for?
The emphatic over-all teaching of this portion is that, generally speaking, it is a private and not an ecclesial matter. Three times he stresses this basic principle -- verses 4, 8, 16. This is the authority and wisdom of the Spirit speaking.
Well-meaning individuals may feel this should be ecclesially organized and undertaken on a large and official manner. We see this trend among those who copy the world's ways.
But all the emphasis and force of Paul's words here is on restricting any ecclesial or organized participation, except in very special circumstances, and all in the direction of commanding and enforcing individual responsibility.
And surely in the light of what we see and hear of well-meant activities in this direction today contrary to Paul's commands, we can see not only the scripturalness of the commands but also the wisdom. *
5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
Life is given to man for ONE REASON ONLY -- to serve and glorify God -- to give Him pleasure and to be useful in His eternal purpose.
Pleasure in the abstract is not of itself wrong. There is, in fact, infinitely more true pleasure and enjoyment, and satisfaction in the Way of Life than the way of death. David said of that glorious condition to which he looked forward in faith --
"In Thy presence is fullness of joy, and at Thy right hand are pleasures forevermore."
But Paul is talking about self-pleasing as a motive, compared with God-pleasing as a motive.
It is the motive and the motivation that determines whether our service is spiritual or carnal.
If we serve God simply to get ourselves into the Kingdom and enjoy its pleasure, this is merely a higher and disguised form of the same old selfishness.
But if we forget ourselves, and serve God out of the joy of love and gratitude and worship and devotion we shall find all other things are added unto us.
Pleasure sought selfishly is never found. It only comes as a by-product of love and service. *
9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,
10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
Paul says it is acceptable for "widows indeed" -- those with absolutely no one who should care for them -- to be taken on as a regular ecclesial responsibility, but EVEN THEN only with several rigid and demanding restrictions
What of others who are equally in need, but do not so quality?
The general and plentiful and consistent instruction of the Scriptures concerning love and care for others, especially those of the Household would adequately take care of all needs in a Body that is truly and spiritually alive. The vital divine command to ALL is --
"He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none, and he that hath meat let him do likewise."
All who are TRULY in the Truth will not only be willing, but thankfully happy and EAGER to do so, as children of a bountiful Father. For those not of this enlightened and spiritual disposition, God has nothing to offer. "As a man soweth, so shall he reap."
Institutionalized charity is a cold and humiliating and depersonalized thing. Individual and private love and care is a beautiful, mutually-blessing bond of perfectness. Officially organized schemes have great dangers, great problems, and great disadvantages.
We must be guided by the Spirit's teaching, whether we see its wisdom or not.
But we often can see the wisdom, especially if we first submit in humble faith. In this case we can clearly observe at present many ill-effects from schemes that ignore the Spirit's teaching.
Encouragement of shirking personal responsibility:
Constant pressuring for money to keep ambitious schemes afloat, like the world's churches;
Unhappy and unsatisfactory conditions of the inmates:
The constant danger of an ever-growing centralized bureaucracy, and an organization held together more and more by its external structure and less and less by the Truth.
Bro Growcott. Grace, Mercy and Peace.
17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
There was no stipulated fee or reward.
What they received leaped out of the purses of brethren, whose inner man was imbued with the truth, and whose hearts overflowed with gratitude to their elder-brethren for their kind and gratuitous vigilance in those times of tribulation and peril.
18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
[The apostle] Paul ... though passionately opposed to any reversion to the bondage of the Law, did not hesitate to appeal to its authority on issues of principle... That temporary regulation for him embodied a permanent principle, that "the labourer is worthy of his hire"... and gave ample warrant for his affirming that they which preach the gospel are entitled to live of the gospel (1 Cor. 9: 3-14).
Law and Grace Ch 18