Every culture has its ways of ‘getting round the system’. Favouritism is displayed in many ways: arranging jobs and housing, direct and indirect bribery and supporting things which are wrong for the sake of family or other honour. That was certainly true in 1st century Ephesus despite all the efforts of the Roman Empire to ensure fair and just systems of taxation and personal rights.
Paul’s command to Timothy is overlaid by the awareness that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the whole company of heaven were watching him. Nothing must be done secretly, no favouritism should be entertained, and nobody should be allowed to have a ‘special deal’ which favoured them or their family. Much of this chapter deals with money and it probably remains the most sensitive of all areas for many churches.
It is usually very helpful for the church leader not to have control over church money. It is a distraction at best and a temptation at worst. As Paul will say in the next chapter, “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Godly people should always seriously question their own motives whenever money, influence, patronage, or a ‘special relationship’ is involved. The Word of God applies to everybody: rich and poor, young and old, male and female, whatever their work or spiritual responsibility. Wise Christian leaders need to apply Bible principles equally to all, in the same way as a wise father should treat all his children equally having no favourites.
© Dr Paul Adams