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Honourable Behaviour

1 Timothy 5:1-2
Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. (NIVUK)

Being in God’s family, with one Heavenly Father, means that we are all brothers and sisters.  When we believed the gospel and welcomed Jesus, God sent His Spirit into our hearts to assure us that we are His children (Galatians 4:6-7).  We are all equal in the sight of God.  Rich and poor are equally loved and valued by God; as are men and women, old and young, able bodied or disabled (Galatians 3:26-28).  Therefore we should treat each other in ways which honour Father God.  It is astonishing that Jesus, the Son of God, should consider those who have been adopted into God’s family as His brothers and sisters … and He is not ashamed of us (Hebrews 2:10-13).  As that is so, how can we despise our spiritual siblings?  

Older men should be respected: they have had more experience of life, wrestling with more struggles than the young will ever know, and should not be rebuked or ridiculed (Leviticus 19:32).  Those who have served the church and explained God’s Word should be honoured (1 Timothy 5:17).  Older people may think more slowly so we should give them time to think and reply.  If we treat older men like loved fathers, we will be kind and gentle in helping them if they go astray.
Younger men should have robust but kind relationships, in which they should encourage each other and be mutually accountable.  By contrast, young men should treat the older women as they would their own mothers; especially as widows might need to rely on the care of the younger men if their own family is unable to look after them (1 Timothy 5:3-16).  The younger women should be protected as dear sisters and not thought about, or treated, lustfully.
The love of God should change the way we relate together.  Instead of using people, we should serve them; instead of lusting, we should love; instead of belittling them, we should seek to build them up.  That is why the church of Jesus Christ should be such a different place to the world.  At least, that is what should happen, but it is not natural for sinful human beings.  We need specific instruction from God and His Spirit’s help in living like Jesus.  That is why Paul sent these instructions to Timothy – so that he could demonstrate and teach how to live in the ‘household of God’ (1 Timothy 3:15).  We also need to check that we are honouring the Lord every time we interact with another believer.  When we practise that kind of lifestyle in the church, it will also affect the way we live at work, advertising the graciousness of Christ.

Gracious God. Thank You for the kindness You have shown me in so many different ways. Forgive me when I have not treated others with Christ-like love, using people instead of serving them. Please help me to review all my relationships so that I will honour You, bless the community of the church and advertise Your love where I work. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams