“As for those who persist in sin rebuke them in the presence of all so that the rest may stand in fear. 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…The sins of some people are conspicuous (going before them in judgement), but the sins of others appear later. So also good works are conspicuous and even the ones that are not cannot remain hidden.” (Excerpts from 1 Tim 5:20-25)
This is one of “those” chapters; chapters where there are a number of rules Paul is giving out to guide the running of a local church from a “pastoral” perspective. Because the pastoral perspective in the scriptures is blurred to an extent (How much of these kinds of instruction am I obligated to perform or supposed to ignore?—pastoral is a description of action, not a title), I need to be aware of them and apply as prompted by the Holy Spirit; but ignore them as “not my job?” Never.
A significant statement: “I charge you to keep these rules…
That was like a license to steal from a candy store in my past, as a rookie Christian. Why? Because these rules had to do predominately with other’s behavior and not mine. I could cherry pick here and forget that Paul earlier addressed my pursuit of maturity (or lack of…).
To the Corinth church Paul wrote: “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation…”(1 Cor 3:10) Another version says “…like a wise master builder…” The idea here is that we are built, layer by layer, “line by line, precept by precept” on our way concerning maturity in Christ.
I would like to consider myself mature but I know I fail in so many ways. I have come to a conclusion for myself that there are some directives out of the Scriptures I am not ready, equipped, or perhaps responsible for just yet. To be clear: I am not talking about “cherry picking” directives from the Scriptures; I am saying that there may be some directives that are in the category “Not yet, but soon” timing-Put “this” on before you put “that” on.
How do I find that out? There are a couple of suggestions I can toss out there. Use the spaghetti on the wall method of analysis for yourself:
Study systematically. If you are bouncing around in the Scriptures–ok, not an issue. Remember however you did not learn math, science, English, or any of your schooling that way. Perhaps
Christ shouldn’t be learned that way either? Just saying…
Find a friend in Christ to hang out with. Discipling can come later but if you don’t have a friend/buddy in Jesus that you can talk deeply with, ask questions, listen to your thinking, etc., then you are missing a significant instrument of Grace in your life.
Find someone to help you with being disciplined in Christianity-another instrument of Grace.
Confess sin in your life, frequently and thoroughly. Ask forgiveness from our Lord (because He is whom we offended first and primarily) and ask forgiveness from others whom we offended. Repent. Find out how to make the repentance stick. By the God’s grace, get up every time and start again. Pray. Fellowship with other believers, avoid traps of temptation if possible.
From these and other processes, we can begin layering foundational learnings from the Scriptures, leaning on and hearing from the Holy Spirit, sharpening our discernment in all things-just like being “wise in Christ” means…
Lord, you see my heart, the inner workings of my mind. I am struggling with putting what I wrote just above in written format and, most importantly, in action. I ask that You don’t make this just theory in me but solid work that comes out as good works. Help me to be patient as You work this stuff out in me. Please keep me focused. AMEN.