Generational Piety

Steve Viars February 9, 2008 1 Timothy 5:1-25

 

- This morning I’d like to begin our time by asking you a question...

- do you believe that our culture often fosters a climate of disrespect and dishonor between those who are young and those who are old?...

1. For examples, in our culture’s music, do you hear young people being encouraged to honor their parents and obey them?...

- could you think of any popular song on the secular market that would encourage such an emphasis?

2. What about in television or movies...are parents, and grandparents and other adults portrayed as individuals who work hard...who should be appreciated...who have wisdom that can be beneficial to those who are younger...

- no, more often than not...the only person with an ounce of common sense in the program or the film is the child...who is surrounding by adults who are bumbling idiots and its only through the wisdom of the child that the day is saved or the problem is solved...

- there’s no question about the fact that many young people in our culture would appear to know very little about what it means to honor their parents, and their grandparents, and the other adults in their lives...

- now please add this idea to that...

- is the amount of honor, and appreciation, and respect that a person receives likely to increase or decrease with age?...

- and of course there are exceptions to every rule...but isn’t it also true that we live in a throw away society that values youth and perceived beauty more than it values age, and wisdom?...

- you see that in the corporate world where when finances get tight, a whole layer of skilled employees are loped off because their salaries might be higher, or their benefits packages are more expensive...and so all of that talent and all of that experience is cast aside simply because of the mighty dollar...

- and even though that makes very little sense in the long term...more and more corporations have created an environment where people who are older are not given the honor and respect they deserve...

- Here’s another dimension---what about the conditions in which some senior citizens are living?...

- I’m aware of one situation in another situation where the children in the family had plenty of financial resources, but their mother was forced to live in government subsidized housing that was very poor quality simply because the children would not provide proper care...

- where’s the honor in that?...and what would God have to say about it?...

- of course the ultimate horror is the emphasis in certain sectors in our country on euthanasia...

- the belief that the best solution to providing care for those who are older is to prematurely end their lives...that is perfectly consistent with the throwaway culture in which we live...

- we could illustrate that in many other ways as well...but that’s enough I think to support the premise...ours is a culture that often fosters a climate of disrespect and dishonor between those who are young and those who are old...

- now, the next question is – how should the church of Jesus Christ respond to all of this?...

- perhaps it’s somewhat like the old story of the two shoe salesmen who were sent to a foreign country to open up a new territory for their company...

- they got off the plane...looked around and saw that nobody was wearing shoes...

- the first man sent an e-mail back to his company saying---cancel all orders; no one here wears shows...

- the second man sent an e-mail that said---double all orders, no one here wears shoes...

- the truth of the matter is ---  the fact that we live is such a climate of disrespect and dishonor provides a tremendous opportunity to be a bright light in the culture God has placed...

- and it very important to note that the Lord has given His people very clear, and very explicit commands about such matters...

- with that in mind, let me invite you to open your Bibles to I Timothy chapter 5...

- our theme this year is Seeking God’s Plan...

- I hope that many of you have already taken the time to complete our Ministry Planning Survey that was distributed last week...

- I know that some folks have chosen to complete theirs on-line which is fine...

- I’m even hearing of some ABF’s that are going to be taking time working on these together...

- the bottom line is, the more data we receive at this phase of the process, the better...

- and we hope the spectrum from which we receive that data is very broad---so yes we’d like to hear from folks who have been at our church for a long time, but we’d also like to hear from those who have just started attending...we also want to hear from a variety of age groups...

- incidentally, we will also be mailing a different version of this survey to all of our neighbors and publishing it the paper, etc...because all of this is going to be crucial information as our church family seeks to develop our next five year strategic ministry plan...

- so that’s part of what’s behind this theme...Seeking God’s Plan....

- however, we’ve said all along that we understand that the people who are best prepared to know and do God’s will for the big ticket decisions in the future are the people who are trying to know and do God’s will in the routine decisions that have to be made every day...

- so this year, we’re seeking God’s plan in all sorts of ways...including in these first two months of this year...a verse by verse study in the book of I Timothy on Seeking God’s Plan for His Family...what does the Bible teach us about the doctrine of the church?...

- so far, we’ve seen four emphases...

1. First of all, God wants us to be characterized by Purposeful Instruction...

- not legalism...not a bunch of rules added to the Scripture in a self-righteous fashion...

- 1 Timothy 1:5 - But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

2. The second answer came in the 1st half of chapter 2 – where we learned that God wants us to have a Prayerful Focus...

- God’s plan is that His people would make entreaties, and prayers, and petitions, and thanksgivings for all men, especially leaders in government and others in authority...

3. Then from the end of chapter 2 and all of chapter 3 – the matter of Qualified Leadership…- in a culture we’re its all about style and externals…God wants the men of the church, and the women of the church to be people of character…

4. Last week we tackled chapter 4, which admonishes God’s people to be men and women of Disciplined Godliness...exercise yourself to godliness...

- this morning we’re going to work on chapter 5, which emphasizes the matter of Generational Piety...read I Timothy 5:1-25

- now, before we get into the details, aren’t you glad that God gives us a book that is very specific in its content and application?...

- sometimes I’m amazed at how frequently people say – the Bible is hard to understand...

- most of what we just read is fairly easy to understand...the problem is – it’s counter cultural and therefore hard to sometimes apply...(or perhaps better said – hard to obey)...

- I think part of our response to a chapter like this is – thank the Lord for a book that is precise, specific, relevant, and intensely practical...

- with the time we have left, let’s think together about Three categories of persons who are to be especially honored in God’s family.

 I. Honor Those in the Church Who are Sinning.

- remember that the previous chapter was all about exercising ourselves to godliness...

- people in the church need to be the real thing...there needs to be a climate of genuineness and authenticity...those themes have permeated this entire book....

- well, one of the obvious questions would be...about the person in the church is not functioning in a godly way?...

- and the answer Paul gives in the first 2 verses of chapter 5 is both surprising and refreshing...

- and please keep in mind what often happens in a church when someone in the church is sinning...

- generally churches fall into one of 2 extremes...

- either the church shoots its wounded...so they treat the person in a very harsh way, quickly separating themselves from the person, or talking behind his/her back...so at the very time the person needs the church’s love and help the most they receive it the least...

- the other extreme is to simply ignore the problem...until you get to the place over time where the people of God have very little of a testimony in the community because it is well known that the people in that church family are no different than people in the world...

- and please keep in mind, we’re not talking about what they were...we’re talking about what they’re trying to be now, and in the days ahead...

- now, let’s see specifically what Paul says about this...

A. Such persons should not be sharply rebuked.

- the idea there is harshness...or violence...sometimes even involving a physical attack...

- and Paul is saying – people in the church who have messed up should not be rebuked in that fashion...instead...

B. Addressing sin should always be done with an emphasis on the familial relationships that exist.

- remember, even though this person may have done something that was the polar opposite of the godliness described in chapter 4...they are still part of the family...

- and the verb Paul uses is very important...”don’t sharply rebuke...but what?”...

- “appeal” – parakaleo

- kaleo – to call, para – come alongside...

- make an appeal – to encourage, admonish, entreat...

- what a great way to describe the nature of our ministry one to another...

- in fact, a variation of this same word group is used an a name for the Holy Spirit...the paraclete...He uses His Word to call to us...to come alongside us...to encourage, and admonish, and entreat...

1. for an older man – appeal to him as a father.

2. for a younger man – appeal to him as a brother.

3. for an older woman – appeal to her as a mother.

4. for a younger woman – appeal to her as a sister.

- so even when someone has messed up – there still has to be a climate of honor...

- if that person genuinely knows the Lord, they are still part of the family...

- it’s been said that sometimes people think, if they did something wrong, they’d get more help on a bar stool than they would a church pew...

- and obviously such words can be twisted in all sorts of ways...but the principle is, if the church shoots its wounded, the church is being unbiblical...

C. This should not be taken to the extreme of believing that such situations should be ignored.

- remember that we always interpret Scripture in light of Scripture...

- Galatians 6:1 - Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

- Romans 15:14 – And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.

- cf. the argument of I Corinthians 5

- while there has to be a climate of honor, that does not mean that the most honorable thing to do is to ignore it...even though in some cases the person who is not behaving in a very godly fashion might want that to be the case...

D. The principle is that careful attention must be given to the way the sin is addressed.

- that’s why Paul would later tell Timothy...

- 2 Timothy 2:24-25 - The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,

- another important piece of this is found in...

- 1 Thessalonians 5:14 - We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

- in other words, this is not a one side fits all discussion...

E. Take aways?

- now, let’s just stop at that point and think about some take-aways...

1. Do you value accountability in the church?...

- do you want to be part of a body of people who love you enough that if you are clearly living in a way that displeases God, someone will come and gently speak to you about that matter?

- there is no such biblically as a lone wolf Christian...we need one another...and sometimes when we want it the least we need it the most...

2. Are you willing to love someone enough to lovingly confront them if needed?

- [tell the story of the counselee from another state – “the pastor should have gone”]

3. If you have confronted someone else, did you do it in an honorable fashion?

- did you do it in a way that is consistent with these verses, or do you tend to be harsh, or judgmental...instead of speaking words of grace?

4. If you have been confronted (even if it wasn’t in the best manner), did you respond wisely?

Proverbs 12:15 - The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.

Proverbs 15:5 - A fool despises his father’s instruction, But he who receives correction is prudent.

- now we see this same general theme of “honor in the church” applied to the subject of widows...

- and again, please think about that in contrast to the throw-away culture in which we live...

- in God’s way of thinking, there needs to be special concern shown to be sure that widows are cared for in an honorable way...

II. Honor Those in the Church Who are Widows.

- now, the amount of space that is given to this topic demonstrates how important this is to the Lord...

- let’s break some of it down...

A. This passage is speaking about a specific class of widows.

- did you notice what it said in verse 3?...

- v. 3 – widows indeed

- you might say – what does that mean?---either a person is a widow or she’s not...

- not for this particular discussion...verse 5 explains it...

- v. 5 – Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone...

B. Not a widow with children or grandchildren.

1. They must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family – v. 4

- that’s where we got the title for this message today – the church should be characterized by generational piety...

- you might say – what does that mean?...

- its the same root word that we studied in chapter 4...exercise yourself to godliness...eusebia...that’s the same root as our word translated piety...

- children, or grandchildren first [and please notice that---that’s the biblical order], first they have to learn to honor their mother or grandmother by providing for her material needs in a godly way...

- now that is not a command that the person always has to live in your home...each situation is different...but it does mean that you are called upon by God to provide material help and support...and Paul even explains why...

2. to make some return to their parents – v. 4

- you say, what does that mean---it means exactly what it sounds like it means...

- it’s payback time...children and grandchildren ought to be thankful for what was given to them, and they ought to be more than willing to provide material help if the need exists...

- but what if a child is unwilling to do that?

1 Timothy 5:8 - But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

- now, does that mean the church shouldn’t help --- no, but not in a way that removes the responsibility from family members...

- so that is not the kind of widow that is primarily in focus here...

- now, you might ask...what is...

C. The widow’s list?

 You see that several times in this text...

- v. 9 – A widow is to be put on the list...

- v. 11 – refuse to put younger widows on the list...

- v. 12 – they have set aside their previous pledge...

- this is speaking about...

Widows who were formally recognized by the church because...

1. They did not have extended family members who could help (v. 4-8)

2. They were at least 60 years old (v. 9)

- the passage is clear that younger women very well may want to marry again, and there is nothing unbiblical about that, so the church should be careful to encourage anyone to make a commitment they may not be able or willing to keep...

3. They met certain spiritual qualifications:

a. She had been faithful to their husband (s) – v. 9

- cf, similar to the requirement for a pastor – a one woman man

b. She had a reputation for good works – v. 10

c. She had faithfully raised her children – v. 10

d. She had been hospitable – v. 10

e. She was a servant (she had washed the saints’ feet) – v. 10

f. She had assisted those in distress – v. 10

g. She had devoted herself to every good work – v. 10

- apparently in the early church, such persons could actually make a vow to the church that they intended to remain unmarried, they were willing to continue to serve as they were able...perhaps this can be understood also in light of what we read in Titus chapter 2 where the older women would teach the younger women---perhaps they were especially and formally committing themselves to that...

- but that was a pledge...

- and the church in turn was committing itself to what according to verse 3?...to honor them...

- honor – timao – “To show respect or care, to support, to treat graciously”

- in the Bible, this word is often used in conjunction with the idea of financial support...

- in this throwaway culture in which we live, the church is to be different in its treatment of those who are older...we are to be a place of generational piety...we are to be committed to honor them...

- now, a fair question would be...what does that look like in our day and age in a church like this?

D. Take aways?

1. If your parents are living, are you providing appropriate honor and care?

2. Widows should have a place of special honor in our church.

a. in our deacons’ care ministry

- cf. conversations about being sure the widow’s houses are prepped for winter, etc...

b. in our youth ministry

- cf. youth groups baking cookies and taking them to shut ins

c. in our future planning

d. in our ministry life.

3. Widows should use their energy to serve God as much and as long as possible.

- cf. some of the ways our widows do the very things that are discussed in these verses...

- including some of the ways they will be doing that this week at the BCTC

4. Our church must have/fulfill a commitment to care for those in our church who are “widows indeed” life long.

- cf. the fact that 90% of women will die alone...[unmarried, because their husband preceded them in death]...

- aren’t you glad, by the way...for a God who has specific provisions for widows?

Psalm 68:5 - A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation.

Isaiah 1:17 - Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.

- please think about the broader point --- God wants His church to be counter cultural by creating a climate of honor for one another...

- are you doing that?

III. Honor Those in the Church Who are Pastors.

A. Honor him in his salary – vv. 17-18.

B. Honor him in the way you handle accusations – vv. 19-22

- formal accusations must have multiple witnesses...

- [does not mean there shouldn’t be private confrontation...]

- when/if those accusations turn out to be true, must be rebuked publically...

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video