Day 8

Support and Honor

from the 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus reading plan

1 Timothy 5:1-6:2a, Matthew 18:15-20, 1 Corinthians 7:39-40

BY Amanda Bible Williams

Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 5:1-6:2a, Matthew 18:15-20, 1 Corinthians 7:39-40

It was my first time driving in a funeral processional. I’d always been a passenger, not the driver. But on this day I was in the car alone, hazard lights flashing, trusting the cars in front of me to lead me safely to the funeral home. A couple dozen cars drove along, speeding up and slowing down in unnatural rhythm, trying our best to keep too much space from forming between each car in the line. A police officer in a black sedan with flashing lights would block an intersection until some of us passed, and then he’d speed up, siren blazing, to beat the lead car to the next intersection.

The last stretch of the drive took us down a busy four-lane highway where we came to a stop, assumedly due to afternoon Nashville traffic. But the cause of the delay soon showed itself: two long lines of cars had parted, moving to either side of the road and stopping in silent, reverent lines, waiting for us to pass. I felt like an Israelite driving through the Red Sea on dry ground, passageway granted by a supernatural turn of events. Maybe that sounds melodramatic, but in a world where we daily insist on our own truth and our own way, the gesture struck me as an unlikely bastion of decency in an individualistic society. The last shall be first. Those who mourn shall be comforted. It was the gospel in everyday clothes.

In our reading today, Timothy, a young pastor of a young church, was learning to lead his congregation in caring for one another. Paul, an older, more experienced brother in the faith, was writing to bolster Timothy’s faith and offer some practical advice. The headline of this particular part of his letter? Support and honor.

These are actions most of us agree to in theory. Support those in need; honor one another as fellow image-bearers of God. Those who do not know Jesus recognize these concepts too, even if they call them by a different name. It’s the reason the line of cars didn’t plow over the police officer that day and insist on their right to the road: we recognize there is a “right” thing to do. The problem comes in moving from theory to practice; we might agree that supporting those in need is good and important, but exactly who is “in need” and how to support them—there’s the rub.

The first two verses of today’s reading set the crucial premise for the detailed, context-specific instructions Paul gave Timothy on the subject: “Don’t rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2). Fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters. In other words, regard your fellow church members as family and act toward them accordingly.

The Church—the family of God—is to care for one another in love and sincerity. We are to move past good intentions and into action, even though it means risking tension, disagreement, and misunderstanding. If we are indeed family, then we can work it out together, forgiving our imperfections and ignorance along the way, gently helping one another grow in the ways of truth and love as imitators of Christ. And if we are followers of Christ and co-laborers in His gospel, then His reputation, not ours, is what is ultimately at stake.

As a family who knows the life-changing, life-giving grace of Jesus, may the countercultural support and honor we show one another cause the world to stop and wonder: Who taught them to love like this?   


Post Comments (48)

48 thoughts on "Support and Honor"

  1. April M says:

    Praying for you Sarah D. in response to your request. May God grant you the peace of mind regarding the exam. May you trust in the Lord and know it will be alright. He knows what you need before you even ask. Will continue to pray for you tomorrow. Remember we are all God’s children helping one another. God bless you.

  2. Lauren Demos says:

    Oh may it be asked of me—of all of us—“Where did she learn to love like that?”!

    1. Kathy Hensley says:

      When I give up my selfishness I love so much deeper. Reducing my work hours to love my 13 year old daughter is now a priority. This time with her is precious.

  3. Sarah D. says:

    Hey everyone, would appreciate some prayers, I have my third chemistry exam tomorrow, and just afraid that if I don’t pass this one I won’t pass chemistry at all. I’ve visited the professor and know what to do better on. Please pray that I will be able to focus today and for me to study my very best for this. I’ve been losing motivation and now I really need to make sure I have studied my hardest for this and put the effort in. Thank you! Love you all!

    1. Jing says:

      May our Father’s peace be yours Sarah as you take the exam.

    2. Katelyn says:

      Hi Sarah, I’m praying for you. Get some sleep, pulling an all nighter won’t do you much good. :)

  4. Susann Williams says:

    I thought the information about caring for widows was so challenging and informative! Younger women under 60 shouldn’t be put on the list, family members should care for the widows in their family before the church steps in. This makes perfect sense.

  5. Victoria Park says:

    Some majorly convicting things in here. I’m glad this was the reading today. In dealing with my disfunctional family, I sometimes distance myself or come up with other projects in order the avoid the ministry opportunities right in front of me. Thankful for these enlightening and challenging devotionals.

  6. Danielle Mutz says:

    Some challenging things here.

  7. September Shaw says:

    I’ve always paid so much attention to Matthew 18:19-20 (“for wherever 2 or 3 gather…”) that I’ve jumped past my own lack of understanding on 18:18, the bind/loose part. So today I looked it up and found a deeper explanation that helped me in the YouVersion app. Sharing it here in case it helps any others:

    “Binding and loosing in scripture are in the context of opening the kingdom by preaching the gospel, and church discipline with the backing of heaven. Commonly misused verse by WOF.

    “What does the Bible mean by binding and loosing?

    “binding and loosingQuestion: “What does the Bible mean by binding and loosing?”

    “Answer: The concept of “binding and loosing” is taught in the Bible in Matthew 16:19: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” In this verse, Jesus is speaking directly to the apostle Peter and indirectly to the other apostles. Jesus’ words meant that Peter would have the right to enter the kingdom himself, that he would have general authority symbolized by the possession of the keys, and that preaching the gospel would be the means of opening the kingdom of heaven to all believers and shutting it against unbelievers. The book of Acts shows us this process at work. By his sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-40), Peter opened the door of the kingdom for the first time. The expressions “bind” and “loose” were common to Jewish legal phraseology meaning to declare something forbidden or to declare it allowed.

    “Peter and the other disciples were to continue Christ’s work on earth in preaching the gospel and declaring God’s will to men and they were armed with the same authority as He possessed. In Matthew 18:18, there is also a reference to the binding and loosing in the context of church discipline. The apostles do not usurp Christ’s lordship and authority over individual believers and their eternal destiny, but they do exercise the authority to discipline and, if necessary, excommunicate disobedient church members.

    “It’s not that the apostles were given the privilege of changing God’s mind, as if whatever they decided on earth would be duplicated in heaven; rather, they were encouraged that, as they moved forward in their apostolic duties, they would be fulfilling God’s plan in heaven. When the apostles “bound” something, or forbade it on earth, they were carrying out the will of God in the matter. When they “loosed” something, or allowed it on earth, they were likewise fulfilling God’s eternal plan. In both Matthew 16:19 and 18:18, the syntax of the Greek text makes the meaning clear: “Whatever thou mayest bind upon the earth shall be having been bound in the heavens, and whatever thou mayest loose upon the earth shall be having been loosed in the heavens” (Matthew 16:19, Young’s Literal Translation). Or, as the Amplified Bible puts it, “Whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth will have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth will have [already] been loosed in heaven.”

    “Jesus taught that the apostles had a special task on earth. Their words of authority, as recorded in the New Testament epistles, reflect God’s will for the church. When Paul declared an anathema on those who pervert the gospel, then we know that anathema was already declared in heaven (see Galatians 1:8–9).”

    1. Gina Glennon says:

      That was great! Yes, the notes in the John MacArthur Study Bible were also helpful to me and come alongside this commentary as well.

    2. Gina Glennon says:

      I just downloaded the YouVersion app but cannot find where the commentary is. Does it depend on the Bible version chosen?

    3. Gina Glennon says:

      I think the answer is that I have an android phone, not an Iphone.

      1. V says:

        I have an iPhone and for the life of me cannot find any commentary in the YouVersion app! :(

    4. Rebecca Leek says:

      Thank you so much for this explanation. I never knew this and it is very interesting and helpful, and I now can read this passage with greater understanding. Thank you!

  8. liz says:

    I’m troubled by these lines. How is refusing to support a widow unless she is old and has no family and has only married once the right thing to do? How is publicly rebuking struggling church members leading with love? It all seems so judgmental, and definitely not how you would treat your own family.

    1. Danielle Mutz says:

      Hi Liz. I think the section on widows is more meant that the family of a widow has a responsibility to look after her as they are able (keeping in mind the family oriented cultural context of first century Jerusalem), rather than leaving her to fend for herself or to fall back on the church for support. That way the church’s limited resources can be used to support widows with no family, who would otherwise have no other way to get what they need to live.

      To me. this section reads like a rebuke to people neglecting their duty and thus burdening others unnecessarily, rather than a prescriptive ‘only people in this situation can be loved.

    2. Bee says:

      Paul isn’t saying that the widows should go unsupported. He’s saying that family members need to step up and take care of their own. This allows the church to focus on those who are truly in need. It’s prioritizing the church’s resources as well as making sure that ALL are taken care of.

    3. Danielle Mutz says:

      And re public rebuking, the key phrase here is ‘persist in their sins’. I don’t think Paul is suggesting we expose people who are genuinely repentant and actively working on a particular issue, rather he is saying that someone who is flat out refusing to even acknowledge that what they are doing is sinful should be publicly rebuked as a last resort, after all other less public options have been used and been ineffective at resulting in repentance.

      Certainly this can be, and has been, done poorly/inappropriately, and this is why Paul instructed Timothy to take these sorts of actions carefully and without prejudice or bias.

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