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.
1 Timothy 5:1-2 (NIV)
In writing to Timothy, Paul encourages him to see his fellow believers as a family:
- older men as fathers;
- younger men as brothers;
- older women as mothers;
- younger women as sisters.
Look again at verse 1 where Paul tells Timothy: ‘Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father’. Have you ever asked why Paul encourages Timothy to exhort the older men? It is because even the old need encouragement. Remember when dealing with the elderly that they have been on the road longer than you; they may be tired, or weary. Your encouragement may be sufficient for them to be re-energised, while your rebuke is likely to discourage them.
Turning to the ‘younger men’, ‘older women’ and ‘younger women’, Paul tells Timothy to treat them like brothers, mothers and sisters, and to do this with ‘absolute purity’. If you remember what had happened in the Corinthian church, you can understand why Paul was concerned about the relationships between church members. These relationships should be characterised by absolute purity.
Paul knows that’s even in the church inappropriate relationships can develop. These will ultimately hurt those involved, as well as the wider church family. Paul’s exhortation applies as much today as it did when he wrote to Timothy. The church should be characterised by absolutely pure relationships.
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