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1 Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity. 

Paul was writing Timothy as to how to treat people in the church. The church, as a whole was new, and the rules of etiquette had not been spelled out. Therefore, even though these two verses are simple, they are still inspired, and we can learn from their insight.   

The church is a big family. We are brothers and sisters in Christ with God as our Heavenly Father. And even though Timothy was in the key oversight position as the pastor, he was not free to treat people any way he wanted. Don't rebuke an older man. To rebuke is to express sharp disapproval or criticism. Instead, exhort, strongly encourage or urge them as you would a father. This is about honor and respect. Treat the younger men as brothers. I know brothers can fight, but that's not the intent. No one is treated as being insignificant.   

Women were not to be dismissed or talked down to. The older women treat as you would your mother, the younger women as you would your sister. Timothy was a younger man, so treating younger women with respect and purity was the mandate. And sisters are hands-off.   

These verses give us a good rule of thumb for how to treat people in the church regardless of our church job function. But they are especially helpful for those in leadership. Earlier, in chapter four, Paul instructs Timothy on how to conduct himself. This chapter is a continuation of those instructions. The message is clear. You are an example, Timothy, so treat people right. Treat them as family.  


You may read or hear this devotional and have a hesitation because your family treated each other terribly. I know that way too many horrible things take place in families behind closed doors. But that was never God's plan. His plan is that the family be a place of love and respect. A place of help and comfort. There are no perfect families, but the home was intended, in God's plan, to be a place of refuge and strength.   

The church is to be the same. A place where people are treated with honor and respect. In a dark, nasty world, the church is to be a shining light. Not just in message, but as a living example of God's transformational power. Not there yet? I agree, but we at least have a good goal to shoot for.   


Dear Father, show me how to treat your children, my family in Christ. And my family at home