1&2 Timothy: Day 8

Honor The Image Bearers

by

Today's Text: 1 Timothy 5:3-6:2, Genesis 1:27, Psalm 139:13-16

Text: 1 Timothy 5:3-6:2, Genesis 1:27, Psalm 139:13-16

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.
- 1 Timothy 5:21, ESV

My arms ached from carrying his newly walking little brother. The 15-hour time change between California and Hong Kong meant waking while it was still dark and a predictable afternoon crash. With only one short week to spend visiting my parents, we determined to squeeze in all we could. The rocking motion from the ferry ride across the Hong Kong harbor put my younger son to sleep, but my preschool aged son knelt on the wooden bench. He strained his neck in order to peer out the window as the ferry carried our family across the dark green colored water. Jonathan watched, eyes barely blinking, as new sights, sounds, smells and an unfamiliar language filled his naturally inquisitive mind.

The long walkway brimmed with people as we exited the ferry. Jonathan skipped along ahead and then I watched as he slowed down, almost to a stop, and tried to make sense of what he saw. A man with no legs, no teeth, matted hair, covered in soot and sores, sat on a flattened cardboard box, begging. A few coins clanked against the metal canister he tapped on the cement. Scores of people hurried by him acting as if he was invisible. I watched Jonathan tilt his head; his young mind had no category for people living in such poverty.

I transferred my sleeping son into my husband’s arms as a quote from the Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason came to mind:

“If man really is fashioned, more than anything else, in the image of God, then clearly it follows that there is nothing on earth so near to God as a human being. The conclusion is inescapable, that to be in the presence of even the meanest, lowest, most repulsive specimen of humanity in the world is still to be closer to God than when looking up into a starry sky or at a beautiful sunset.”

Taking Jonathan’s hand, I pulled him over to the side. Once we moved out of the center of the steady stream of people, I knelt down so we could look straight into each other’s eyes.

“Buddy, did you see the gentlemen over there sitting on the cardboard?”

He nodded.

“I want you to know, Jonathan, that this gentleman is made in the image of God. And because he is made in the image of God he is more beautiful than the sunset. He is precious to God.”

Image bearers are precious to God. All image bearers.

In 1 Timothy 5, the Apostle Paul gives instructions to the young leader-pastor, Timothy, on how to treat people in the church. He covers the gamut by addressing the “least” in the church, the widows (v3-16), and the “greatest,” the elders (v17-20).  He begins by instructing Timothy to honor both the widows and the elders and to “do nothing in a spirit of partiality” (v21). Widows, during the writing of this epistle, lived without any government assistance and occupied a vulnerable place in society, having no authority and often living in extreme poverty. Elders, on the other hand, gave leadership to the churches. Paul addressed both ends of the socio-economic and cultural spectrum as he called Timothy to honor all people in the Church.

Like Timothy, we also are called to honor image bearers.

To honor means to give high esteem and respect.

You and I, and every single person we see, have intrinsic dignity and worth because we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). David describes us as fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

This passage of Scripture challenges me to consider how I view people. Do I show partiality and favor to those who have status, or come from a similar or higher income bracket? Do I honor those who are not like me? Those who come from different ethnicities or backgrounds? Am I willing to extend God’s love to those different from me who sometimes hold different beliefs? Do I honor myself as an image bearer? My family?

My prayer for each of us today: “God, give us eyes to see people as you see them. Amen.”

 

Vivian Mabuni is an author and speaker, and a sushi, white Christmas lights, coffee-with-friends-lover. She has been on staff with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) for 26 years and serves with Epic Movement, the Asian-American ministry of Cru. Vivian is the author of Warrior In Pink: A Story of Cancer, Community and the God Who Comforts.

 

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  • Anna Hornberger

    The quote from this passage reminds me of Brandon Heath’s song “Give Me Your Eyes”

    I feel that this devotional is especially relevant now, what with the disturbing ways that people are handling politics. It is a wonderful reminder that regardless of the different views that people have, we are all images of God. If we could see each other the way that He sees us, we would have so much more love to give.

  • This means so much to me today…I will see someone who abused my children just a few months ago. This someone is a child them self and had the same abuse committed to them. I feel incredibly torn in my feelings of grace and forgiveness and anger. I don’t want to just put on a brave face. I want to love from the depth of my spirit that is connected to the Holy Spirit. I want God to open the eyes of my heart. I want to see him as God sees him….forgiven and love.

  • Andie Walton

    I have read several devotionals in SRT. Many have touched me, but not as much as this. It not only leaves me with thoughts of how I view people in the world, people I’ve been abused by. Do I judge people on status? I like the way she addressed it to her son. Something I hope to be able to teach my daughters.

  • Megan Barone

    Literally needed this so much today. Thank you She Reads Truth for continuing to challenge me every single day :-)

  • Kasey Summers

    Absolutely love this! What if every Christ follower all around the world treated every one as if we were all made in the image of God.. I think there would be a lot more kindness and love going around. Needed this truth spoken into me this morning!

  • warrior.co.il

    I love that I totally recognized your clips without even trying. ;)

  • This was beautiful! Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  • I read Psalm 139 with my women’s Bible study yesterday and talked about being convicted by this EXACT thing – not valuing/honoring ALL image bearers. I pick and choose — I value the life of unborn babies, or the people of Nepal, but do I value the life of the woman who have me a weird look at the grocery, or the man that cut me off I n traffic?! My prayer is the same as Vivian’s! “God give me eyes to see people as you see them.”
    (Also, yay for being a fellow Cru-staffer!”

  • I'm a little behind in my SRT reading…
    This post did not go where I expected it to go! I haven't fully processed my thoughts in a way that would begin to explain my surprise. After reading the 1 Timothy passage, I think I expected the devotional section to offer some kind of gentle reprimand about living without entitlement…or something. (???) I don't even know. Which made the following passages, about being fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God, completely mystifying. I couldn't see the connection. I guess I expected to be somehow put in my place. A downward movement, if that makes any sense. Instead I was reminded to lift others UP, into THEIR rightful place as glorious representations of the living God. That different perspective gives me a different angle for reading that 1 Timothy bit, and (even though I'm utterly failing at expressing myself) I'm grateful for it. Lately my defenses on behalf of certain people in my life have made me, on the other end, judgmental and defensive against others. I needed to be reminded that we are all image-bearers, even (grumble, grumble) the ones I'm struggling with personally.

  • To see each person as God sees them – worth dying for, redeemable, forgiven, and loved. Some days an easy task, others a struggle. But God sees me like this when I am at my worst, when I struggle, when I am a servant. How can we not see others in the same way?

  • I love this. I love how thoughtful God is.. Before designing a logo, or creating a typography picture- I put so much thought and time into it. It takes a long time! However, when my husband and I decide to have children– it’s one action and God has already created and forethought the characteristics of our child. He’s so thoughtful and creative. We forget how He truly thought out each person we come into contact with. We must love well.

  • Wow! What a word and what a reminder. I myself have been to Hong Kong and can surely relate to the people with no limbs that sit on the street day to day asking for money. It is in that moment that you thank God for their love. We may not be able to fully heal a crippled person, but we can pray that they feel he love and presence of God everyday!

    Just as I was made in the image and likeness of God. So was everyone else that I see. I pray that I can see with the eyes of God!

  • With the world being in such turmoil right now over the police brutality. I think this is an awesome reminder that we are all made in the image of God. His creations are wonderfully complex yet still in his image. If we could show more love and respect to people not like us and from different walks of life. I would imagine a more peaceful society.

  • Carolyn J

    I must say I love reading the comments just as much as the SRT devotional, and seeing all the different perspectives. They serve to further challenge me and convict me of additional areas I must work on in my walk with Jesus.

    Today's devotional (okay, yesterday's, but I'm now a day behind…) is a stark reminder that we are ALL made in the image of God. Your touching story of the homeless disabled man begging for mercy/help/money/love is sobering. How you handled it is inspiring. Like some of the commenters, I have trouble understanding that we are ALL made in the image of God and thus image-bearers. We – okay, I – judge people to be image bearers based on their actions and whether I believe they are Christian or not. And even if THEY say they are a believer, if they don't behave themselves the way I think they should (i.e. are hypocritical, gossips, difficult to work with, condemning to others) then I DON"T think they are image bearers and thus treat them differently – get short-tempered, irritated, more likely to gossip about them. Today's study reminds me that we are ALL made in the IMAGE of God, whether any one person chooses to walk the path that God has set for him, to live LIKE Christ – it doesn't matter and it certainly isn't for me to judge.

    Thanks for the stark reminder that we are to love ALL God's children – even the seemingly unlovable, those that do us harm, those that challenge us, those that we get so irritated with. We are to pray for our enemies – and to me, I've always interpreted that scripture as "pray for those you really don't like" in addition to those who actively seek to go against me (i.e. enemy).

    • Bonnie

      Carolyn, I love your clarity!! And I stand convicted as well. I’m behind in my reading, but want to take time soak this in.

  • I struggle with viewing myself as an image bearer. A lot of the time I feel completely worthless. I do not treat myself with kindness or respect. I always have a tape playing in my mind reminding me of all the ways that I’m not good enough. And I’m sure I’m not alone these feelings!

    Today’s devotional was a much needed reminder. We are ALL image bearers, me and you! We have worth because we are loved by the God of the universe!

    We should treat ourselves in a manner that reflects the one who created us.

  • Antimony

    “[He] is made in the image of God. And because he is made in the image of God he is more beautiful than the sunset. He is precious to God.” To think that God sees all people as precious.

  • I've been studying the last few days about the mystery of godliness and the devotion today really challenged me. I've learned a lot about the urgency and intense concern Paul had about the godliness of people. When I read today's devotional, particularly about the impoverished man sitting on the piece of cardboard on the sidewalk, I thought godliness would cause me to not simply look and FEEL sorry for him, it would cause me to DO something for him, even if it's something easy such as acknowledging him by saying hello because he is a fellow, valued human being, instead of stepping over him as if he didn't matter at all.

    What makes us different than unbelievers if we don't act differently? If we don't engage with and show respect to 'the least of us', how am I any different than someone who has not been saved by grace? I live in a place where there is ample opportunity to engage with homeless, impoverished people. This is timely.

    The last few days the concepts of how we treat one another has really been on my mind. I'm grateful for the devotion today. Thank you.

  • thekholtz

    The thought that even being around those people that definitely aren't our favorites in our life, we are still somehow closer to God gave me such a WHOA moment! Definitely changed my perspective on how I treat those that drive me absolutely nuts. Very convicting!

  • What words, both in the Devotion by Vivian and in all of the comments from my fellow She's of She Reads Truth! Vivian's descriptive writing brought tears to my eyes, imagining her delivering that ever so important message to her son about that man that they encountered. How beautiful!

    Like a few of the other ladies that have commented, I can't help but notice the relevance and timeliness of today's message in relation to what is going on around our nation. I wish to share some words I came across yesterday that relate to today's devotion:
    "And to my fellow Jesus followers. Let's be people that stand in the gap. People that acknowledge the deep nuance, tension, and complexity in days like this. People that stand for the oppressed. The marginalized. The broken. And let us be people who recognize the divine image in every human. …whoever it may be." -Jefferson Bethke, on his Instagram account yesterday

  • This is relevant in our daily lives everyday but it is so relevant to our nation. If we looked at others through God’s eyes rather than our own….man how beautiful the world would be.

  • Kristen Gula

    This is so relevant to what is happening in America right now.

  • Amen. Amen. Amen. This, I believe, is the heart of Christianity. Yet so often overlooked. Beautifully put. Thank you for writing this touching and beautiful message!

  • Today’s message was beautiful and challenging. I prayed yesterday for wisdom concerning my perception of others, and this was exactly what I needed to start changing my heart and my thoughts. Thanks so much.

  • For the past few day’s this has been my prayer for my husband first then for all those around me, those that don’t know Jesus or those that are angry at Him. Today’s devotional was like confirmation, God’s gonna help us! ^-^ ♡♡♡

  • Such a beautiful devotion this morning…. For me, It's easier to look away from the people or circumstances that are so sad, so pitiful; things that make me feel helpless and take away from the sunny, joyful bubble with which I try to surround myself. This reminds me that what or who I may see as sad or pitiful, God sees as "more beautiful than the sunset". Thank you SO much for this reminder today. Father God- Give me eyes to see people as you see them. Amen.

  • Such an beautiful and relevant message right now. Thanks for challenging me this morning!

  • This is a timely reminder for our family. My 10 year old encountered another child in a wheel chair at church with some significant impairment. He didn’t know how to act. This reminder of all people being image bearers is exactly what we talked about and NOW I have a passage to point him to. Thank you for helping me get in the Word daily,and memorizing scripture.

  • mhubbard

    Loved today's post! Amen!!

    “If man really is fashioned, more than anything else, in the image of God, then clearly it follows that there is nothing on earth so near to God as a human being. The conclusion is inescapable, that to be in the presence of even the meanest, lowest, most repulsive specimen of humanity in the world is still to be closer to God than when looking up into a starry sky or at a beautiful sunset.” Wow!

  • This song has long been a favorite of mine. I think it suits this devo quite well.

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  • Being honest, this is something I have really been struggling with recently. I spent last summer working with an organization that showed me how to love the homeless community as Jesus loves the homeless community. However, after moving to Grand Rapids, where there is a fairly large homeless population, I feel as if everything I learned and felt over the summer has been stripped away from me. I have been grabbed, followed, catcalled, and spit on by this homeless community on more than several accounts. How can I continue to love them and show them His love when I have come to fear for my own safety?

    • Gema Muniz

      I understand what your feeling, since I have also had the same experience with some homeless people, but we are called to look beyond that and love them regardless of their actions. We need to remember that God’s way is not our way. I hope this helps sister, God bless.

  • What a wonderful reminder is today's reading! All people – whatever they look like — have been made in the image of God.

    This addresses a tender spot in my heart, as my aunt who had Down Syndrome lived with us throughout my childhood and teen years (and continued to live with my folks until the year before she passed away at age 63). What a precious lady was Aunt Catherine! Though learning proved a challenge for her, she had the best memory of any of us, and knew the dates of dozens of relatives' birthdays and anniversaries. Admittedly, she had a stubborn streak, but that was eclipsed by her gentle and loving soul; and I count it a big blessing that I had the opportunity to grow up in a household that included her. Certainly, that experience has continued to make me far more sensitive to others facing their own unique challenges, and we've raised our daughters to be aware and respectful, too.
    Vivian, thank you for the reminder to see and treat *everyone* as God's child. While it's the most natural thing in the world for me to consider precious people like Aunt Catherine as God's children, I do yet need to remember to likewise see others, who by their own choices have been marginalized by society, as also deeply loved by God.
    …Praying for all my SRT Sisters…may our Lord meet your every need!!

  • churchmouse

    Dear Lord, Thank you for the faithful contributors of She Reads Truth who, through the devotions and comments, challenge me to be a better Christ – follower. As I go about this day, may each person whom I see remind me that they are image – bearers of You. Let that be my first impression of them. Keep me from the shallowness of seeing them as the clothes they wear, the language they use, the job they have, the car they drive, the color of their skin, or even, my goodness, the style of their hair. Let me see them as the very one for whom you were willing to die. Forgive me, forgive me, for my shallowness. Give me Your eyes this day. And may I greet each image-bearer with a welcoming smile. Amen.

  • Wow. So convicting.

  • …and the phrase, “there but for the grace of God, go I” keeps running through my mind.

  • God, give me eyes to see people as You see them. Every one of them.

    • SusieT

      Anyone else finding herself humming Brandon Heath's "Give Me Your Eyes" song this morning? :)

  • lydiarose06

    This passage and devotional hit me right in the heart today. I work with some special needs kids– many of them with behavioral problems. It can be so frustrating and easy to give up– so many have given up on them. But, each of them is made in the image of God! He loves them and knows them. I want them to know His love and presence. Unfortunately, it's a situation that I can't share the gospel with them or with their families. But I pray that my short time of being with them that they will see something different and that God would bring them to Himself and give the families hope. Please pray with me!

    • SusieT

      Praying with you this morning, Lydia: Sovereign, loving and merciful Father, please make Your presence known in the hearts and minds of these special ones. In the world's way of seeing them, they are 'challenged' and often challenging, but You, O LORD, know them inside and out, and know how best to reach them. Speak to their minds and hearts in a way that they can best understand, that they and their families would come to know You, Lord Jesus. And thank you, that You care deeply about them and love them with an everlasting love. …Thank you, too, for Lydia and her work with these kids. Bless her ministry; give her wisdom, joy, peace, strength and patience…and then even more strength. And may You be glorified! Amen

  • smithwendy62

    Wow…Amen…I love how sometimes the words give you a good swift kick in the behind. I have new bosses this year and to say that they are challenging is putting it nicely…but to remember that they are made in the image of God is hard…but they are…When people are challenging, I need to remember that there is a lesson that I am supposed to treat them with respect…we don't have to agree or like everything they do but respect is a must!

  • Kelly_Smith

    In light of the social unrest in the US right now, this is a timely truth. I don't turn on the news much anymore, but the hatred and violence cannot be ignored. The middle of the battle is full of emotion and pain. The solution is so simple, yet monumentally complex. It is today's prayer: God, give us eyes to see people as you see them. I see in this passage instructions to take care in putting people in boxes. A widow is not automatically offered help just because she is a widow; an elder is not quickly ordained. We cannot rush to judgement of either the victim or the perpetrator (and those labels are becoming less clear in these conflicts we see playing out on our TV screens). I am not prone to engage in political controversy, to toss my opinion into the argument (but I am guilty of casting judgement quietly in my heart). It might benefit everyone involved if the body of Christ were to pray this heart-changing prayer before hitting "post" on their own opinion–God, give us eyes to see everyone as you see them.

    • Susan

      I meant to hit thumbs up not down!

    • ~ B ~

      Kelly, I share the same feelings. I have intentionally avoided the news and turned to prayer over it. My heart hurts for the state of this nation and all that ties it up. "The solution is so simple, yet monumentally complex" – so very true. ~ B

  • "God give us eyes to see people as you see them."

    This simple sentence has humbled me this morning. My heart is woven with a compassion for the "lowest". I have absolutely no concern in approaching, talking with or offering a hand to the "forgotten". Just yesterday I enjoyed my weekly visit with a widow in hospice who had me chuckling and I enjoyed a "date night" with the hubs at the laundromat. Always a great source of interesting folk and conversation. Side note, our washing machine is being wonky and the needed part is out for the week … woohoo. Prayer that the massive amounts of laundry that is my life, doesn't bury me! ;) BUT *this* has convicted my heart in regards the other end of the socio`economic spectrum. I remember when my career was in an office. I met with folks who were heads of companies, even shared a car to the airport with a long time state senator …. these people, that's where I get stuck. I just don't know what to say and end up all in my head with them, in addition, I find this morning …. I must subconsciously think they are not in need of any words or affirmation from me, so if someone appears to "have it all together" I kind of sort of, unintentionally or intentionally, subliminally slight them….. my guess is that I lack confidence here also, but it beckons me to see ALL in the image of God, to have the eyes of Christ for each person I encounter, not just the "lowly", but also the successful. In fact, I've had conversations in the past with my eldest, admitting that it's likely many of these folks are in desperate need of Jesus. I've known many wealthy families stricken down by depression, workaholics, alcohol, promiscuity, you name it …. so why do I not feel the need to reach out to these folk as well? We are ALL, each one, in bold need of our Savior. No matter our position in life. I think I may have uncovered a serious short-coming and lack of confidence area this morning.

    Prayerful that as I move forward in it, God convict me to see where I may be slighting someone regardless of position or status. That as I grow in this awareness, my confidence and love of ALL others grow as well. Whether it be the advantaged teen, the fortunate young mom, or the prosperous leader of a large business, what have you. That if I am given the opportunity to chat with someone, anyone, I see that they are an image bearer too and that their very existence beckon me to see God. ~ B

    • Kelly_Smith

      Great point, B! We are more aware of the disadvantaged and their needs than ever before. This is, indeed, a good thing. But, the successful and wealthy are often posterized as the enemy. To borrow from Dr. Suess and add my own twist, "A person's a person no matter how small [or large]." This chapter challenges us to treat all people, the big and the small, with love and grace.

    • Candacejo

      Not just the lowly…amen. ♥

    • Susan

      Wow! Some wisdom here!

    • SarahMarieT

      Thank you! I really needed to be reminded of this truth!

    • Jess

      Ah… Honestly… You took the words right out of my mouth. I have a real problem with the successful. For me, I think it’s a pride and confidence thing. But this devotion has really impacted me this morning to view all people differently!

  • Amen to that prayer Sister and thank you for this. This tells us that God is not partial, He honors those who honor him, and we don’t have to wait to be with Him in Heaven to do that, we can by honoring the image bearers. Very deep words, indeed. God bless you.

  • Ah, indeed Vivian indeed…..Lord God, Give me eyes to see people as you see them…

    I love the job I do…!
    It's actually a blessing from God…every Monday and Friday, I get to be with the disadvantaged, the marginalised, the 'least' in my community, and next to the gift of my children, this has to be pretty up there…You know as I began to write, and thinking on the words Vivian spoke to her little Jonathan, how true it is, that we all began as beautiful babies..knitted in our mothers womb, loved by our Creator, our Champion, through thick and thin, no matter what, that love, …that love never changes, it is not dependant on anything we do, not even the fact that we are made in His image, it just is… Who are we then to look at another creation of the Most High God, and judge…
    If we've ever been in a situation where we have been judged, we know how uncomfortable it is, how demeaning, degrading, hurtful it is…Love one another, as I have loved you…
    Don't hear me preaching, Sisters please, because I am as guilty as the next man…I remember a time I would walk on the other side of the road…shame on me, I'm not proud of those days, and yet here I am now, by God's grace, been given a chance to see and understand why, who what, where and how these friends, these 'image -bearers' got to where they are now….and I can tell you now…we are only a couple of missed mortgage payments, a couple of bad choices away from being where these 'image -bearers' are!!!! God's grace covers us, maybe, just maybe we should extend that Grace to those who don't always fit the mould we imagine people should…Amen..

    Sorry Sisters, if I sounded not like the gentle(lol) Tina, this morning…but I have a heart and a passion for these, I totally love this name for US all, everyone is an Image -bearer…we are none of us better than the next man, we are ALL made in God's image…and perfect in His eyes, warts, faults, black, white, beggar, president, armless, legless, one eye in the middle of the head, eleven toes…Siamese twins, elephant man…in the eyes of the One whose image we are made….we are perfectly made…and I praise God for that.., and Please God May it always be so….Amen..

    Vivian, thank you for the reminder of my passion…yes Lord, may I see people as you see them…

    Happy Wednesday Sisters…be Blessed and a blessing to those you meet today…in love, Tina..xx

    • ~ B ~

      I know exactly where you're coming from T. We ARE all perfectly made. Prayerful to see all in His image! Love to you sweet friend and sister! Hope you're enjoying a sunny season! ~ B

    • MNmomma (heather)

      AMEN!!!!!!

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