21 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.
22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.
23 (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.)
24 The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later.
25 So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.
So Timothy, and the church leaders of the future that are going to read this letter, keep these guidelines and uphold justice evenly. Don’t show prejudice.
There is more to this laying of hands business. It’s also a way of appointing and ordaining leaders. In other words, don’t be hasty about appointing people to leadership positions. That’s why it’s in the context with the next statement: Don’t take part in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.
By being slow to call someone the leader of this or that, Timothy will help uphold the reputation of the growing church. If you make the first warm body that can talk out loud a pastor or a teacher, who knows what will happen!?
That keeps with the verse after the aside about wine. The sins of some people are conspicuous, doing before them. It’s easy to see some people’s sins. We might not make them a leader quickly because of obvious struggles to submit their lives to Jesus.
But take your time, Timothy. Keep yourself pure. There are folks that want to become leaders in the church for impure reasons. Their sins will appear later. If you are patient, they won’t be the boss and the leading example in the community when their sins catch up with them.
Good works, however, are conspicuous whether we like it or not. You can do the secret service, the secret electric bill paying, the covert drop off of groceries…but eventually the good deeds will be caught! Just like secret sin, God has a way of uncovering His saints doing His will.
So not only is this a warning to Timothy the leader, but a secret hint to all of us that aspire to be leaders. Take care of yourself. (Water didn’t have chlorine in it back then, but it had a bunch of other junk in it!) And keep yourself pure and full of good works.
Prejudging and partiality are a terrible road to travel down. You have to keep track of who you did wrong and who got the favors. Better instead to be just and equitable. By seeking the Lord Jesus in our decisions and our judgments, we learn to be as consistent and kind as He is.
That’s what makes our works into good ones. Secret or public, caring for others with the Love and holiness of Jesus will show off to the world.
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