Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. 1Timothy 5:1-2
Paul’s first letter to Timothy is full of instruction in how Timothy should be conducting himself in ministry and as a believer; and it continues today to promote the same behavior for me. The verses above stand out to me as an extension of what Jesus referred to as the second most important commandment…to love my neighbor as myself.
Paul reminds me to ‘not rebuke but to encourage’. To rebuke means to find fault with or reprimand severely; and interestingly the origins of the word stem from the French word that means ‘to hack down.’ I think of times that I have been rebuked, more often in an unloving way, and I remember feeling like I had been hacked to pieces with the tongue. It has torn me down, and made my heart harden. It has caused me to build up walls of defense, and even, at times, turn my eyes away from God. Often, when I have done something that may warrant rebuke, I know it and am already chastising myself; I don’t want or need someone else to highlight my wrongs.
What I desire instead is encouragement. I want to be treated in a way that helps me make better choices, that reassures me that I am still valuable, still worthy. I want to be honored as a child of God. I want to be loved back into life.
Paul tells me to treat each person, according to their age, as family – older men as fathers, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters. I am to honor them and respect them, and encourage them in life and in their journey with the Lord. I am to love them the way that I also want to be loved.
He also stresses the importance of purity. I believe that this purity relates to being chaste, morally pure in regards to the opposite gender and innocence; but I don’t think that’s all it means. ‘Purity’ also relates to truthfulness, authenticity, and freedom from anything that debases, contaminates, or pollutes, in this case, the relationship.
My walk with Christ is about relationship. Initially, my journey is connecting with Him, building relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then from the fruit of my relationship with God, stems relationship with others – the opportunity to show a piece of God to other people, while also seeing a piece of Him through them in return.
Yesappa, Thank You for Your relationship with me. Thank You for loving me and reassuring me throughout my journey. Help me remember to be an encourager to others, rather than a fault finder. Help me use my words to build up, rather than hack down. Help me be pure toward everyone I meet, in regards to moral uprightness, and also authenticity. Help me offer freedom to others as You offer freedom to me. Help me to love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)
Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Definitions and etymology found at www.dictionary.com.