17Church leaders who do their job well deserve to be paid twice as much, especially if they work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 It is just as the Scriptures say, “Don't muzzle an ox when you are using it to grind grain.” You also know the saying, “Workers are worth their pay.”
19 Don't listen to any charge against a church leader, unless at least two or three people bring the same charges. 20But if any of the leaders should keep on sinning, they must be corrected in front of the whole group, as a warning to everyone else.
21In the presence of God and Christ Jesus and their chosen angels, I order you to follow my instructions! Be fair with everyone, and don't have any favorites.
22Don't be too quick to accept people into the service of the Lord by placing your hands on them.
Don't sin because others do, but stay close to God.
23Stop drinking only water. Take a little wine to help your stomach trouble and the other illnesses you often have.
24Some people get caught in their sins almost at once, even before the time of judgment. But other people's sins don't show up until later. 25It is the same with good deeds. Some are easily seen, but none of them can be hidden.
1If you are a slave, you should respect and honor your owner. This will keep people from saying bad things about God and about our teaching. 2If any of you slaves have owners who are followers, you should show them respect. After all, they are also followers of Christ, and he loves them. So you should serve and help them the best you can.
False Teaching and
These are the things you must teach and tell the people to do.
The distinctiveness of the Christian community is a hugely important biblical theme. The people of Israel were chosen to be a model, showing the world what a community in relationship with God looked like. Surrounding nations were meant to look at Israel and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people” (Deuteronomy 4:5-8). The church as the community of Jesus takes on that role, living out life in the Spirit so that no one ends up saying bad things about God and about our teaching (6:1).
Within that community, leadership carries an enormously important role. Leaders who preach and teach, keeping everyone fixed on “the good news the glorious and wonderful God has given” (1:11) and calling people to “hope in the living God” (4:10) are to be respected and supported. They are also to be defended, because wrong accusations will come.
Yes, we should honour our leaders, but never idolize them. Leaders will fail (v 20) and be frail (v 23). Any repeated sins, which may not always be obvious at first (v 24), must not be swept under the carpet but instead be faced and dealt with. No one sits above discipline or can operate without accountability.
The significance of the role of leaders (v 21) and their failures are just two reasons why the selection of leaders is a big deal (v 22). So we must avoid pushing people into a position too quickly. But even more important than our timing is their character. Just like the entire Christian community, a key mark of a spiritual leader is distinctiveness. Paul calls Timothy to swim against the current, refusing to sin just because everyone is going that way (v 22). And the word to slaves in 6:1 and 2 also has resonance here. The slave’s submissive attitude of heart is exactly the posture of the greatest leader of all.
Lord God, You are the true ruler of heaven and earth. I submit to you. Thank you for Jesus, the servant leader. May my church leaders speak with the authority of Jesus and display his meekness and gentleness. Please make me an authentic leader. I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.