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Respect shown to worthy pastors ensures longevity with integrity for the church.

Why do guests return to a church? What keeps people coming back? Churches can do many good, practical things to welcome and care for their people. These are all the fruit of a stable spiritual reality that begins with the character of church leaders.

Listen

Pastors and elders are needed to address vices in the local church and set the standard for character and holy living. They are the first layer of protection for the church, and they need to be valued. The people of the church must know how to care for and treat their leaders. Pastors juggle many challenges in ministry with the responsibilities of their life outside the church, in addition to increased spiritual attacks of which their congregation may not be aware.

Paul wrote these instructions to Timothy, a young pastor who led multiple churches in Ephesus. Timothy had a timid disposition and had to live with a chronic illness. Paul's writing also suggests he had a tendency to be tempted by legalism. Paul gives instruction on how a church is to care for its pastor for Timothy's own protection.

Compensation for Pastors (1 Timothy 5:17-18)

How much should pastors be paid? Many churches fall into one of two extremes. Some pastors preach that Christians should expect to be wealthy, and they themselves grow quite prosperous from their ministry. Other churches believe that the less a person has, the more favor he or she receives from God; and the church's leaders are intentionally kept impoverished. Both these practices show a radical imbalance.

Paul under the inspiration of the Spirit offers a clarification and a qualification of how pastors are to be compensated. First, an elder must "rule well." Pastors should always exceed expectations. At Grace, this means they work more than the average 40-hour week as they spend time in the Word and prayer and oversight of God's people.

The hard work of a pastor is a level of toil and labor completely unfamiliar to others. Yet pastors themselves will testify that it is quite a blessing to experience God's grace working through their gifting.

Because of this, pastors are deserving of "double honor." Commentators differ on whether to interpret this phrase as double pay or the double benefit of respect and remuneration. Our pastor agrees with the second perspective. A pastor should not live far above or far below his people. Every person wants to be respected and needs financial support. The congregation gives their leader the same.

Church Discipline of Pastors (1 Timothy 5:19-21)

Unfortunately, Timothy had some issues to deal with among the leadership in Ephesus. Pastors are not immune from church discipline, and Paul tells Timothy how to proceed when a leader's good heart goes bad. A church that truly values the leadership position is willing to deal biblically with a pastor who has lost his character.

Objective

Paul's instructions apply Matthew 18:15-17 to pastors. Any concern about his character should be shared with the pastor first, with the hope of clarifying a misunderstanding. If he admits to sin or is not responsive, the matter must be presented to two unbiased witnesses to substantiate. Following this process protects the church whether an accusation is true or not.

Public

If the accusation is substantiated and the pastor has violated a qualification from 1 Timothy 3:1-7 or Titus 1:6-9, he must be removed as a pastor-teacher. If repentant, he may submit to discipleship and remain a member of the church. If done right, the church maintains her unity through this difficult process. The goal at every step is repentance and restoration to fellowship with God and others.

Fairness

There is nothing more valuable than the character of the church. There can be no partiality when dealing with sin. This is a way God's people can mirror His character.

Reverent

Paul reminds the church that they act in the presence of invisible friends. Holy angels are interested in the church because they value what the Head of the church values: character, unity, and spiritual progress. We have an audience of the highest sinless character as we seek to obey the Lord in protecting the church.

Application Points

  • Praise the Lord, Grace Church of Mentor already does a tremendous job at obeying this passage! Let us continue to do so even more.
  • Are you thankful for your pastors? How do you let them know?
  • Do you pray for your pastors? Commit to do so more in this New Year!
  • If you ever have a concern about your pastor's character, bring it to him directly. Approach him with the attitude of wisdom (James 3:17-18) and the goal of resolution and unity. Likewise, if you hear someone else has a concern, go to the pastor with that person to have it resolved.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Deuteronomy 25:4, Luke 10:7 Paul cites two reliable witnesses to support his case, Moses and Jesus.
  • Galatians 6:6, Philippians 4:10-19, 1 Corinthians 9:7-12 – Other instructions on pastoral pay.
  • James 3:6-18 – The importance of speaking in the spirit of wisdom.
A Hymn to Encourage: "I Run to Christ"

I run to Christ when chased by fear and find a refuge sure.
“Believe in me,” His voice I hear; His words and wounds secure.
I run to Christ when torn by grief and find abundant peace.
“I, too, had tears,” He gently speaks; thus, joy and sorrow meet.

I run to Christ when worn by life and find my soul refreshed.
“Come unto Me,” He calls through strife; fatigue gives way to rest.
I run to Christ when vexed by hell and find a mighty arm.
“The Devil flees,” the Scriptures tell; he roars, but cannot harm.

I run to Christ when stalked by sin and find a sure escape.
“Deliver me,” I cry to Him; temptation yields to grace.
I run to Christ when plagued by shame and find my one defense.
“I bore God’s wrath,” He pleads my case – my advocate and friend.

Text by Chris Anderson; Tune by Greg Habegger.
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