As you may have noticed over the past few weeks, we have covered many chapters written by Paul, most of which were letters written to churches; however, the next several Books, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, were written to individuals. Here in 1 Timothy we have been reading through the letter Paul wrote to, you guessed it, Timothy, in order to advise and counsel him in matters of the ministry as Timothy is now Pastoring the Ephesian Church, which Paul had previously planted.
In the first 4 portions or chapters of this letter Paul has addressed issues such as the proper function of the law, salvation, the attributes of God, the Fall of man, and even the person of Christ. And now, here in Chapter 5, Paul gives Timothy clear direction on how to help shephard the church in matters of relationships within the church, as well as the importance and best practices for caring for widows. Not only that but he also even offers some super practical advice on dealing with some tummy issues that Timothy was experiencing as his body adapted to the water in the area.
This explanation of very practical steps in dealing with what we could call “day to day issues” tells us that though Timothy was definitely well versed in scripture - we know this because of the legacy and Godly heritage built in him by his Grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice as depicted in 1 Timothy 1:5 - he still had a lot to learn when it came to the application of all of that knowledge. In other words, Timothy knew WHAT to do but Paul is now helping him learn HOW to do it.
Being a student of the word, Timothy would have known the book of Proverbs well. And if you’ve read the book of Proverbs then you know that it is full of reminders of how important it is to have discipline. For instance, we see in Proverbs 15:32 that discipline leads to understanding, in Proverbs 19:25 that discipline leads to knowledge, in Proverbs 15:31 that discipline leads to wisdom, and in Proverbs 6:23 that discipline leads to a happy life.
Discipline is a key tool in helping purify our lives because it has a way of confronting sin head on and helping us in eliminating it from our lives. Timothy knew that. So again, Timothy knew WHAT to do - confront sin, offer counsel, and don’t fear discipline - but it was the how that the Lord was teaching him in this season. So let’s take a quick look at two of the “how to’s” Timothy is given here in Chapter 5 that we can all apply to our lives today.
First, remember, whether you are on the giving or receiving end, that Godly discipline, or correction, comes from a place of love. It’s saying “I care about you and want you to know all there is to know about the Blessings of God. I want you to prosper spiritually. I desire that you will live a happy and joyful life. I want you to be living, working, and serving in whatever ways the Lord has called you. In fact, I love you and care for you so much that when I see sin in your life I want to bring it to your attention.”
Isn’t that the same kind of gracious love and correction that we receive from Jesus? As the old saying goes - “God loves us as we are, but He also loves us too much to leave us this way.”
Second, Godly discipline exhorts, it does not condemn. 1 Timothy 5:1 says “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him…” This means that when correction needs to be made, when sin needs to be addressed, we are not to do so with a harsh rebuke but rather with more of an exhortation or encouragement. The word “encourage” used in this scripture comes from the Greek word parakaleo, which if we break it down literally means “para” - alongside and “kaleo” - to call. Or, in other words - to call alongside. It can also be translated as to encourage, admonish, entreat, or appeal, to strengthen.
Staying on that track we can really see the value and importance of this teaching to “come alongside” when it comes to correction when we continue looking into that word ‘para’, which means “alongside”. If you are a PARAprofessional then your job is to come alongside and help someone. The Holy Spirit is the parakletos which means the comforter. He comes alongside us and brings us comfort. And the word of God is paraklesis, which means the comfort of the scriptures. In other words, the word of God comes alongside and strengthens, the Holy spirit comes alongside and strengthens, and WE, even when bringing correction, are to come alongside and strengthen.
So how are we to bring about this love filled, gracious discipline that both corrects AND strengthens? The key is to make sure we are living a life of overflow with Jesus and, in turn, we will see an overflow of the fruit of the spirit in our lives.
Matthew 7:15 asks the question - How will we know who the real Christ followers are and verse 16 answers that question clearly - “You will know them by their fruit.” And Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that “...the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control…”
May we be a people that produces good fruit. A people that walk this life with a grace filled, “come alongside” type of focus. Receiving strength from the Lord and offering strength to others every single day.