Meditation for Monday

Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father, and the younger men as brethren. 1 Timothy 5:1

In a school that some of my grandchildren attend, my wife was having some difficulties in a class where she was doing some volunteer work. At least two of the children appeared unable to take direction from the teacher or from any other adult. For example, one child refused to share any of the class supplies with the other students as they worked on an art project. Another child refused to follow directions from the teacher, and kicked the teacher in the shins when told to sit in her seat. These are isolated incidents, of course; most of the children in that class were well behaved. But there is a growing approach among many parents that children should not be restrained in any way by adults, and should be allowed to do as they please. Perhaps those unruly children are the offspring of such deluded parents. Or perhaps they are just one of the results of a society that increasingly tends to show respect to those who are older or who hold positions deserving of respect and dignity. Our text makes it clear that such respect is not only appropriate, but commanded.

Theologians differ on whether the word that is translated ‘elder’ in our text is the word for a member of the Assembly oversight or simply an older person. In reality, it does not matter. The context indicates that this elder is in a position of error in some way. Dealing with such a person requires careful recognition of the elder’s age or position. A rebuke would be humiliating to such a person, humiliation that would serve no purpose. The first step in addressing the issue is to entreat that person in the same way that we would take up an issue with our father. I cannot recall a time in my life when I ever rebuked my father, although there were times when I recognized that he was not correct in something that he either did, said, or promoted. Our of respect for my father, I would raise the issue privately, carefully, and lovingly. If we used that kind of respect in dealing with an elder, we would be wise.

Not all elders are right all of the time, we know that. But all elders should be given respect. We will solve more problems by remembering that than we will by openly criticizing and correcting them. -Jim MacIntosh

Leave a Reply