I TIMOTHY 12
CONCLUDING CONCEPTS IN I TIMOTHY
In reading and interpreting the Bible it is important to realize the time it was written and the circumstances which prevailed at that time. Much of what Paul has to say in chapters 5 and 6 of his first letter to Timothy have to do with the handling of customs and situations which were peculiar to the way the church did things at that time. Many of these situations do not exist in the church today, and the change in circumstances in our age requires a different set of ways to handle the activities of the church. Those who demand that the way they did things in New Testament days is a law or a pattern for how we should handle things today are making a judgement not called for in the Bible. For example, most men chosen to be elders have their own professions and do not need to be paid by the church. Also, the economic situation in our society does not call for us to have a special class of widows to be cared for by the church. There are many cases where they did things in New Testament days in ways that we do not need to emulate today. Those who argue that every such situation calls for an example to be rigidly followed by the church today only cause unnecessary dissension and division in the family of God.
However there are a couple of things which Paul emphasizes in these chapters that we need to take note of. The things he says to Timothy about how to treat elderly people and others only point out our responsibility to respect others properly. One who never learns to have proper respect for others really is seen to have no respect for himself. Such a person is usually rude and ungracious if they have no respect for what others think of them. We see too much of that in our society today in dress and behavior patterns that neither compliment the person nor make society any better by their presence. Every individual is responsible for the effect he has on the world around him, whether he accepts this responsibility or not. None of us has the right to “litter” the landscape with trash, nor with rudeness and behavior that ignore the rights and feelings of other people.
I can remember, as I was growing up, that many of the church people I knew had a religion mostly made up of don’ts. Don’t dance, don’t mow your grass on Sunday, don’t drink any alcohol, don’t go
swimming in the public pool, don’t go to the picture show, and the list goes on. Such a religion does very little to teach people to use judgement and moderation in their lives. If more people had been trained to discipline themselves and use moderation there would not be such a problem with obesity in our society today. I have heard many a sermon condemning the things I mention here and especially drinking. Paul seemed to think it was a good idea for Timothy to take a little wine, and he was not talking about grape juice. When Jesus turned water to wine at Cana, it was not grape juice, or the guests would not have said it was the best wine they had tasted. We do not need negatives. What we do need is teaching on self-control. We do not need to teach children just what to do, but to do what they think is right, and how to learn and respect what is right.
The last thing I want to note at the close of this book is Paul’s very positive dissertation on the “love of money”. If there is a besetting sin characteristic of our society today, this is it. Greed for money and for the power it brings destroys the honor of our political system, the integrity of our sports scene, the enjoyment of our entertainment media, the safety and availability of our medical needs, and every other part of our public life. Truly Paul spoke the truth when he
said, “The love of money is the root of all evil”. Little can be done to correct the massive ills it causes in our public lives, but every Christian must examine his own heart and life and ask himself how much the “love of money” determines the decisions and desires of his own private life. We are told that “the Lord loves a cheerful giver”,
and that “to give is better than to receive”. But is that like a lot of other things that we say we believe of the Bible teaching, i.e., a part of our verbal creed, but not a part of our daily practice?
Next week we will begin our studies in II Timothy.