Read 1 Timothy 5:17-25
17The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18For the Scripture says, "Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain," and "The worker deserves his wages." 19Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.
21I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.
22Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.
23Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
24The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. 25In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden. (NIV)
As we read through Timothy, we must always remember that current culture plays into a lot of Paul’s advice to Timothy. Some of the time it is simply Paul’s instructions and not doctrine that comes out. Other times, it is sound doctrine. We must not be worried about this. The church at all times and all places must always deal with the current culture in sharing the Gospel. I have helped start many new churches in Florida over a period of more than 30 years. A lot of the dos and don’ts have changed over that time because our culture has shifted over the last 30 years.
With that said, let look at this section of the letter. Paul reminds Timothy that those who work in the church should be paid. In Luke 10:5-7, we find part of Jesus’ instruction to the disciples when he sent them out to preach. He said this: “5When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.' 6If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. 7Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.” We also know that in the past and even to this day, those that work in the church often do not make what they could in secular world. But the church grows because of the dedication of many who give back this way.
Paul also reminds Timothy of the Jewish law that Christians should also observe that it takes two independent witnesses to bring charges against a person. We see in this charge and the rest, that the church moves slow and judicially when it goes about its business. The church has always been slow to change its thought. This is to ensure that it is of God and not of man.
Paul points to this in the case of laying on of hands over people. This could be referring to ordaining people to preach or as some speculate, the laying on of hands of a repentant sinner who was put out of the church and is now being brought back into the fold. The early church had a procedure to bring people back in who had brought shame on the church and one of the things done was the laying on of hands. Paul says, give it time to prove the call is real.
In this same thought, Paul closes this section with a reminder that not everyone’s sin is evident to all. Some can conceal their sin very well. But God notices this. Just as not everyone is praised for their good works or people even notice their good works. But God notices. This is to remind us that we do not need to be discouraged is we see bad people getting away with stuff or be disheartened when people do not notice what we do. Nothing escapes God’s notice and there will be a day of reckoning for all things, good and bad.
Blessings and Peace