Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. 1 Timothy 5:19-20
Paul has so much good practical advice when he writes to Timothy. He has a real Father’s heart for him. He wants Timothy to be all that God has called him to be, he wants him to be wise & he wants him to be careful not to go off track. These verses are important for us today. Verse 19 says, “Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.” People are so critical of leaders. You can often hear people accusing leaders of something wrong, and often it has no truth to it. Often it’s just someone letting off steam or someone who’s overly critical. Sometimes it’s because the person has a log in their own eye & they’re picking a splinter out of someone else’s eye.
But, sometimes it’s a true accusation. And Paul’s advice is to not entertain it, unless it’s brought by 2 or 3 witnesses. Matthew 18 covers this in a similar way: “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” It’s so important that we have 2 or 3 witnesses. I like the principle of going to the person first. It may all be cleared up in that meeting & no-one else needs to be involved.
1 Timothy 5:20 says, “But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning.” When it’s appropriate, we need to go public, to warn others. In this day and age when there is so much Grace teaching, some may feel uncomfortable naming & shaming others. People will say things like, “Judge not lest you be judged!” But there is an appropriate time to go public. And the purpose is so that others may take warning. If we don’t warn others, they may end up shipwrecked. Just like a lighthouse is a warning system for ships, we need to warn others that they could end up on the rocks if they keep going the wrong way. People might say it’s lacking in love to do that. But it actually shows more love to warn people about the rocks than to be silent & let them get shipwrecked. There’s a time & a place for the warning signs…
Lord, give me wisdom when dealing with others. Thank you that your word is a lamp to my feet & a light to my path. Lead me on the straight & narrow Lord. In Jesus name. Amen.