An unusual saying from the OT finds its way into the book of 1 Timothy: don’t muzzle an ox while it treads corn. Perhaps this saying isn’t as familiar to us as it was to rural farmers. God put this phrase in the Bible to communicate a biblical truth. Ministers, especially those who preach and teach, are worthy of being paid double honor: respect and pay.
Ministers must also be held accountable. This accountability must be fair and impartial. Only when two or three raise an accusation must significant action be taken. This qualification is in place to protect the leader and the congregation from partial justice.
Should a leader continue to sin after being warned, he must be dealt with publicly. We tend to recoil at public rebuke, why not keep it private? If the sin is public then the correction is public. Furthermore, the congregation needs to see the holiness of God protected. This will strike fear in the hearts of the people and provide a safeguard from more such open sins.
There are some final commands. Don’t place a man into office quickly. Making rash decisions on leadership can prove detrimental since a man’s character needs to be proven. Those who place immature men into office share in his sin. Be practical in standards of holiness. It seems Timothy was being careful to not partake in alcohol but his stomach was ailing. Therefore, Paul urged him to take alcohol for medicinal purposes. Sins and good works have a way of manifesting themselves, so be patient and let time do its work. This is a helpful principle to follow and it helps curb frustration and impatience. God works in time, not in short flashes. Let’s pace ourselves with our expectations.
In summary we have the mind of God on a congregation’s relationship to leaders: double honor and accountability. A congregation needs to take responsibility for both of these items and actively assert itself lest things fall into disarray. The final admonitions have to do with believers not being rash and over-principled. Let us run with God who does not yield to momentary whims but on factual evidence as time produces it.
This text for this message comes from 1 Timothy 5:17-25. Want to listen? Here’s the online sermon archive.