1Ti 5:21-25 “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality. Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure. Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities. Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.”
The concerns of being an elder are never to be taken lightly. Being a minister of the gospel of Christ in any measure is not to be taken lightly. Whether you serve by pastoring and preaching or by loving your neighbor as yourself, the matter is serious and deserves our utmost attention. Paul did not tell Timothy something that was just his opinion: this was a charge that was given before the face of God.
All the instruction that Paul has given Timothy up to this point is never to be carried out with prejudice or favoritism. We cannot call something sin in one instance and turn a blind eye in another. There is not one set of rules for the bishops and deacons and another set for others. We cannot insist on godly behavior from others while engaging in ungodly behavior ourselves.
A part of this charge is not to be hasty to set anyone apart to the work of a bishop or deacon. Neither are we to be partakers in other’s haste to do so. We are never to allow prejudice or partiality to cause us to walk in the sins of others. Years of righteous living will never excuse a moment of unrighteousness (Eze 18:20-24).
We are charged before God to keep ourselves pure. We must be always on guard (keep) against uncleanness. Paul’s next counsel here to Timothy almost seems out of place. Why should he go from speaking about being pure to not drinking water and taking wine?
Perhaps it is true that Timothy had some infirmity that a little wine would help. It is also worthy of note that water may have impurities in it, while wine does not. The wine that we partake of in our daily communion with Jesus Christ helps our infirmities. It has a strength and a purity that men’s watered-down ideas will never have.
Being partakers of the body and blood of Jesus Christ in our daily walk grants to us wisdom that we otherwise would not have. Some men are blatant in their sinning while others may be more cunning in hiding their disdain for God. However, God’s judgement will not be hidden concerning either of these situations. We are called upon to walk according to His judgement and not our own.
In the same vein, the loving works of some are obvious to us. We see their desire to please God in their very countenance. However, those who quietly go about God’s will are not hidden. They are made manifest before God and loved by God’s people.
As we consider Paul’s instruction to Timothy, one thing should be abundantly clear. We are not, in ourselves, worthy to be the servants of God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Our strength alone is insufficient to fulfill the charge of an elder. Only in the grace and power of God can we carry out the duties and responsibilities that our service requires of us.
May we always, with great humility and love, look to God our Savior for the help we need to serve Him!