The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor …
1 Timothy 5:17
One important part of a missionary’s work is to encourage pastors who will lead the churches after the missionary has moved on. The Japanese pastors with whom I have worked have been admirable, spiritual leaders. I have observed, however, that one of the biggest enemies to church growth in Japan is not from outside the church but from within: a lack of respect for its pastors. One can labor for years in evangelism and see the church grow steadily, only to have the work endangered very quickly by a whispering campaign. Malicious gossip can be very destructive.
The apostle Paul knew what that was like. In 2 Corinthians 10-11 we learn that Paul was criticized by divisive “super apostles” who said he was not a good speaker and his preaching was weak. But those were false teachers who put themselves ahead of Christ as they strutted in front of the people and even slapped some in the face.
As in all areas of life and society, leaders in the church must have integrity and serve with honor. If they violate the law of God, they may need to be deposed. In our reading for today, Paul tells Timothy how to handle cases of accusation against a church leader. Accusations are not to be taken lightly or without grounds. And if there is wrongdoing, it must be handled in a way that deals honestly with the facts and sustains the church.
Thank you, Lord, for providing shepherds for your flock. May they lead wisely, depending on you for direction. Protect and guide us all by your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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