“Do not rebuke an older man, but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.”
(1 Timothy 5:1–2)
There’s so much we could talk about here in the context of First Timothy chapter four leading him to chapter five and how to care for one another in the church. Right after this, Paul goes on to talk about honoring widows and making sure widows are cared for in the church. But the big picture I want you to get in your mind, maybe hear in your heart, from First Timothy chapter five, verse one and two is this picture of the church as family. “Do not rebuke an older man, but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.”
The church is united by Christ. We are a family. Prioritize praying for the local church which you are apart of.
The way the Bible describes the body of Christ, the church, is like family. We look at each other in the church as family. We would even say that we should look at brothers and sisters in Christ, in the church, as closer than family, because the reality is there is a union that comes in Christ that is deeper than blood ties, physical ties, and that union will last far beyond this life. We are closer to a brother in Christ than we are to a person in our family who is not in Christ. Now, obviously, there’s unique relationship with those who we share family ties with physically, or through adoption, or the people in our homes, and the network, the web of relationships that flows from that when it comes to extended family, and part of the picture here in First Timothy chapter five actually exhorts us to make sure we’re caring for our households, our physical households well.
At the same time, just stop and think about the members of your local church. They are your family, they are your brothers and sisters. There are spiritual fathers and mothers in that body of Christ, in that local church. And so I just want to lead us to pray for the people in our churches like they are our family. I pray every day for my wife and my kids, the members of my physical family, my extended family, physically. I have an intentional way that I just try to pray for them on a weekly basis, but when I pray for my local church, it’s an even deeper picture of family that we need to make sure to be prioritizing and are praying and have this perspective in are praying.
So God, we each think right now about the local churches that we are a part of. And God, I pray that if there’s any followers of Jesus listening to this who are not currently committed, not just a member of or a part of or attending, but committed to a local body of brothers and sisters, God, I pray that you would change, that you would bring about that commitment in their life. They need that. A church needs your grace in them. So, God, we pray that you would lead people to commitment to local churches as a member of that body, intended to build up that body, and be a part of the ministry of that body in the world. And God, we pray as we think about the church that we are part of it, as I think about McLean Bible Church in greater Washington D.C., I thank you for the members of this family, and as others are praying this right now, we thank you for the members of our local churches, the brothers and sisters who make up each of our local churches and we pray that you’d help us to love them like family.
Help us to care for them like family, knowing sometimes family is hard to care for. Sometimes family has challenges. Sometimes we don’t always get along perfectly with family members. So, God, we pray that you would help us to bear with one another, to care for another, to be patient with one another, to be forgiving toward one another. Now, all these one anothers in the New Testament come alive in a whole new way, once we realize, yes, this is family. So, God, we pray that you would help us to serve one another, to encourage one another. As we gather on Sundays, help us to go into this gathering, not thinking, what am I going to get out of this, but how am I going to give to this? We’re going to a family gathering where I exist to serve other brothers and sisters, to lay down my life and love for them to care for them, to help them grow the image of Jesus.
God, we pray that you’d help us to approach your church like you’ve called us to as family, as we anticipate this gathering one day of family from every nation and tribe and tongue and people. God, we praise you, just like you’ve taught us to pray, our Father in heaven. And we pray that as your sons and daughters, you would help us to love our brothers and sisters well, each other, and specifically each other in the local churches that we are committed to. Help us to be faithful, loving, caring, compassionate Christ like members of our church families. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
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