"REGARDING TIMOTHEOUSí RECEPTION"

First Corinthians 16.10-11

 

INTRODUCTION:

1. Please turn in your Bible to First Corinthians 16.10-11 and stand for the reading of Godís Word:

10 Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.

11 Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.

2. This is a bit of an unusual passage of Scripture, as sermon texts go, because it is Paulís instructions to the believers in the Corinthian Church, telling them how to treat a preacher.

3. To quickly review, First Corinthians chapter 9 also deals with certain aspects of the relationship that exists between a congregation and a man in the ministry, but focuses only on meeting his material needs and actually paying him.

4. In Acts chapter 20, the thrust of the comments are about feeding the flock and watching for ravening wolves. In Paulís first letter to Timothy and his letter to Titus, he also deals with the treatment of the preacher, but in those cases itís primarily the kind of relationship that exists between an older and a younger preacher, or a senior missionaryís relationship with those who are his co-laborers.

5. Even in the letter to the Hebrews, specifically 13.7 and 13.17, where believers and their spiritual leaders are in view, the focus is on the question of obedience and submission, not how you are expected to treat the preacher personally.

6. "Lord, is there a way I am to treat my pastor? Are there guidelines given for the proper reception into my life of the influence of Godís men? Is your Word so very complete in its instructions to me that it even covers the personal rapport I am to have with this preacher?"

7. The answer to those questions is, of course, "Yes." Specific instruction is given in Godís Word to show the believer how to relate, on a personal level, to the man of God in his life.

8. And in our text for this evening, instruction is related to the two dispositions that are involved in that special relationship, the disposition of the preacher and the person, the disposition of the missionary and the Church member, the disposition of the man in the pulpit, whoever he may be, and the man or woman in the pew. Weíre dealing with both his disposition (my disposition) and yours.

1A. CONCERNING THE DISPOSITION OF THE PREACHER (16.10)

10 Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.

It is a well established principle of Godís Word that a follower can dramatically affect and influence the leader in his or her life. You gals who are married to spiritual men know how God has used you to give you the kind of husband that you want. First Peter 3.1-6 attests to that.

I am quite sure that ladies who are not married to men who are spiritual leaders in their homes will too often have grave doubts about this, but itís true.

But this verse that I have just read shows Church members in Corinth how to affect the disposition of a preacher. Do you know what that ought to tell you? It ought to tell you that you can greatly influence how I, or how a missionary, or how an evangelist, behaves toward you. First Corinthians 4.21 is a great example of this: "What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?"

Three words to expand on in verse 10 of our text, regarding your influence of my disposition, or any other preacherís disposition.

1B. First, Formality

1C. Notice, if you will, the name of the minister, the name of the man of God, that these Corinthians are to receive. Timotheus.

2C. Folks, here, and whenever Paul refers to Timothy when writing to other people, he refers to him as Timotheus. He never uses a diminutive or informal version of this manís name.

3C. And why does Paul do this? Paul does this because itís a measure of formality. Paul does this because itís a token of respect. Paul does this because itís appropriate decorum.

4C. My friends, there is a tendency that is found in Churches like ours which decry formalism and traditionalism. And though we never want to be steeped in ritualism or formality, we must still guard against that which can cause us harm. Itís called familiarity, and itís a step in the direction of disrespect.

5C. You see this creeps in whenever a leader and follower relationship exists in which the leader genuinely loves and is concerned for those who are in followship positions, and when that love is reciprocated. This applies to parents with their children. Itís a problem found in classrooms between teachers and students. Supervisors and their workers deal with it all the time. And itís a classic problem in the military.

6C. Hereís how it manifests itself in a Church. Oftentimes believers would like for the preacher to go off the clock, to relax, and to be an ordinary guy. In other words, people want him to set aside the authority that accompanies his calling and his office.

7C. And, yes, itís good for a preacher to relax, to kick back, and to recreate with the people he ministers to . . . but not if he has to pay the expensive price of familiarity to do it. Ministers who do this with people are temporarily abandoning their calling, something they should not even temporarily do.

8C. Folks, I know from painful experience what is suggested here. You see, whenever you forget that Godís man is Godís man, when you demand that I or another be your buddy or your pal, there will be problems. And the problems will be the classic problems that arise from familiarity.

9C. That is, when I am led of God to rebuke you or instruct you or correct you you are likely to become offended and to feel betrayed. Why? Because I, someone you regard as your familiar friend, have done something that friends typically do not do. I have done something that pastors do.

10C. Do I think Iím better than you are? Oh, no. I am your servant and am humbled that God has called me to this position. But for me to serve you effectively you must not deny who I am to you, what I am to you. I am not your friend, though I like you very much and try to be very friendly. I am your pastor. There is a difference. Amen?

11C. I think my friend Pastor Johnston dealt with this potential problem better than Iíve ever seen when he first arrived in El Centro as their pastor, years ago. When asked by one of the men what his first name was, he replied, "My first name is Pastor." When the man asked him again, he replied again, "My first name is Pastor."

12C. If it takes some measure of formality to avoid the great danger of familiarity . . . so be it. You see, you can make friends with anyone, but not just anyone has been assigned by God to be your pastor.

13C. "But I know pastors who insist on being called by their first names. They say thatís the way Paul did it." I think they are making a mistake. Addressing a pastor by his first name, when you live in an authoritarian society as Paul did in which the rules of propriety are unlikely to be violated, is one thing. But when you live in an anti-authoritarian society, where rebellion against divinely instituted authority is the norm, then you are only encouraging that terrible first step toward disrespect of the pastor by addressing him by his first name.

2B. Second, Fear

"See that he may be with you without fear."

1C. Why would Paul caution those Christians against making Timotheus fearful? Because you Christians can be terribly frightening people. And Timothy was a man prone to being fearful.

2C. When a woman smart-mouths her own child, or perhaps screams at her husband, I think in my mind, "She might conceivably do that to me some day." What would I do if she did that to me?

3C. Or when a husband is so childish that you really donít know what to do or not to do with him, for fear of him pouting and sulking and staying out of Church. How do you treat a terribly immature man? Acts like a kid, dresses like a kid, sulks like a kid, drives a car like a kid. I am afraid that I will damage him because he is so very immature, so fragile.

4C. Folks, a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is still a human being. And no matter what kind of personality you may think he has he will still have a natural tendency to throw up defenses if he begins to feel that he, personally, or his ministry is threatened.

5C. He may appear to be proud and stand-offish, or he may not like being around you. He might be obviously frightened, or he might cover it with ferocity and aggressiveness. Should he behave in such ways? No. Should he correct people who provoke fear in his heart? Sure.

6C. Granted, such behavior by a pastor or an evangelist, or anyone, is sinful. He ought to settle the matter with God. But he may struggle with it. He may be a fearful Gideon or a timid Timothy. If that happens to be the case, the Bible indicates that you can do something about the man of Godís fears.

7C. Declare your intentions to serve God in your Church no matter what happens. Let him know that you donít have a chip on your shoulder. Demonstrate to him that you are not easily offended, and that it would take dynamite to dislodge you from your Church. That way a pastor or a missionary can relax around you and not be fearful of slipping up and offending you.

8C. And watch your mouth. Be very careful to not step over the line of propriety when using humor. And donít ever make a cutting remark to a Gospel minister. Remember what happened to the youths who said, "Go to thou bald head," to Elisha. Finally, donít tempt a preacher to sin against you and then hold it against him for not being perfect.

9C. Preachers generally try very hard to unconditionally love the people they minister to. Receiving that love in an appropriate manner makes giving it a great deal easier.

3B. Third, Fellow

"For he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do."

1C. In Romans 16.21 Paul refers to Timotheus as his workfellow. That description is made here, as well. Itís an important comment made by Paul.

2C. Folks, Paul wanted the Christians at Corinth to remember that although Timothy was no Paul, his calling was just as sure. And I have been called to perfect the saints at this Church, while greater men than I have not.

3C. So, though Scripture forbids any preacher to think more highly of himself than he ought to, sometimes a Church member can behave toward a preacher in such a way that he is sometimes tempted to think much less of himself than he ought to.

4C. If you will do what you can to alleviate whatever human nature fears a preacher might not yet have dealt with in his own life, and if you will acknowledge the man to be one of Paulís fellows, a man of God, then you will have done those things which mightily affect my disposition toward you, and the disposition of any other preacher who may stand on this platform.

5C. And, may I say, you generally do very well as a Church in this regard. I commend you.

2A. HAVING SHOWN YOU HOW TO AFFECT THE DISPOSITION OF THE PREACHER, PAUL NOW TURNS TO INSTRUCTION CONCERNING YOUR OWN DISPOSITION (16.11)

11 Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.

Again, three words to expand on.

1B. First, Attitude

"Let no man therefore despise him."

1C. The word "despise" translates a Greek word for "no account." The man of God is not to be thought of as no account.

2C. But notice! Paul doesnít tell the Corinthians not to despise the preacher whoís coming. He tells the Corinthians that they werenít to allow anyone else to despise the preacher.

3C. Do you realize what the implications of this directive are? You folks are put into a position whereby you are directed to speak for me should someone try to tear me down. It is your job to make sure that others are not allowed to despise me. And you cannot do that by always remaining silent.

4C. "Why should I say anything? I donít even like you." Hey, if Proverbs 16.3 is to be believed, you will begin to like me if you do what Paul instructs you to do and make sure other people donít despise me: "Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established."

5C. Restated, Paulís direction is for you to actively influence the attitude other people have about your preacher. You are to do what you can to make sure anotherís attitude toward me is good.

6C. What are the benefits from Paulís direction? There are two obvious benefits. First, your attitude toward me will improve, Proverbs 16.3. Second, the willingness of others to respond to my message and my ministry will be greatly enhanced.

2B. Next, Action

"but conduct him forth in peace"

1C. The word "conduct" means to send someone forth on a journey. A great many Churches like doing this to pastors, by firing them. As a matter of fact, I used to pastor a Church which had sent pastors forth on journeys about every 18 months for 45 years.

2C. But the Church that I used to pastor didnít fully realize what Paul meant by this. What he is encouraging the Corinthians to do, and what each of you ought to do, is not fire the preacher, but help the man of God do what he needs to do.

3C. What Timotheus needed was help on his journey. But listen to Paul now. What I need is help in another way. I need your help in reaching the San Gabriel Valley for Christ. Will you help me on Saturday nights to reach out? Iíll bet itís more important than what you are currently doing on Saturday nights.

4C. Someday I will need your help raising enough money to either build new facilities here or buy somewhere else. And next Saturday I need your help in performing the routine maintenance jobs that a property of this age necessarily requires.

5C. And donít forget the various ministries of this Church. Perhaps you would like to help in Sunday School classes, in nursery work, or by participating in our music ministry.

6C. Folks, donít fight me by doing nothing or by just sitting there like dead wood and waiting until someone asks for your help. Step up and help me in this great struggle to reach the lost.

3B. Finally, Appraisal

11 Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.

1C. The last portion of this verse reveals that Paul thought highly enough of Timotheus to want him with him. He valued the young man of God, and was showing the Corinthians the value of Timotheus to him, in an effort I think to lead them to so value him. Your prompting to value me is Paulís example to the Corinthians.

2C. "Pastor, donít you think itís a bit egotistical to ask that of a person?" Folks, if it were me asking this of you, yes, it would be egotistical. But itís not me asking these things of you. Itís the great apostle Paul.

3C. Let me illustrate what I mean by appraisal. I have been asked by two different couples to consider their choice of a couple to assume guardianship of their own children in the event of a casualty. I was not asked to make the decision, and I would not make such a decision. But being asked about such a thing shows me their appraisal of me, just as not being asked about such a thing shows me what peopleís appraisal of me is.

4C. You see, when your appraisal of the pastor is high he becomes your counselor of first resort, not your counselor of last resort. And if your appraisal of your pastor is not high you need to ask God to do one of two things: Either correct your attitude, or move your pastor and bring to you the man of God He really wants you to sit under, because it obviously isnít me.

5C. "What if we just move to another church, pastor?" That would not be Godís will, because it would show the likelihood of you being unconverted, First John 2.19: "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."

CONCLUSION:

1. Folks, I honestly, before the Lord, love each and every one of you. I am absolutely crazy about you people. But I want you to know that I stand before you making no personal claims, whatsoever.

2. I do stand before you as Gospel preacher, however, and Iím going to declare to you your responsibility before God. Some of you are out of line in your treatment of me. You call me "Pastor," but I am not really your pastor.

3. You may honestly think nothing is out of line, but Iím here to tell you that your appraisal of both my calling and the ministry that Iím supposed to have in your life is not what I understand the Bible to call for.

4. So far as your disposition is concerned, there are some of you who treat me as if I am no account. In point of fact, you remain unmoved and unmovable when I urge you to step up and serve God. You either wonít do what you know you ought to do or you wonít step forward to lighten the load that I carry.

5. I promise you that I am not angry, and I am not seeking to condemn you. Things are going entirely too well here at Calvary Road for me to be angry with anyone. And had this text not presented itself in Godís Word I would never have publicly shared the things Iíve talked about with you this evening. But because these two verses are in the Bible Iíve done my best to preach the Word straight and apply it to our situation as best I am able.

6. Do you have a problem with me? Whether you think you have or not, does Godís Word indicate the presence of a problem with some of you. Now, itís your choice whether you want to have a pastor or not, but your choice will reflect on whether or not spouse feels free to have a pastor, and whether or not your children will ever truly have a pastor.

7. Concerning my personal disposition. Is my relationship with you less than it ought to be? Then I suggest you examine these issues:

#1 Formality. Have you strayed from the relationship that ought to exist between a pastor and a member of the flock? Have you been so intent on friendship with this one who has watchcare over your soul that youíve allowed familiarity to creep in, or you resent the fact that familiarity has not crept in?

#2 Fear. Are you the kind of person whose level of commitment is a mystery? Or are you a fierce person to deal with about personal sin? Or maybe itís something else that might cause fear in my heart and mind when dealing with you. Something which hinders my ability to pastor you without fear of retaliation or resignation on your part if I make a mistake or do something you do not like.

#3 Fellow. Are you willing to realize my calling? Are you willing to realize that I am your pastor, your spiritual leader and guide and teacher? I am not your fellow, but Paulís fellow worker.

8. Those three areas of attention will greatly affect and influence my disposition toward you.

9. Or how about your own personal disposition? What can you do about your disposition?

#1 Attitude. Will you seek to influence the attitude of others toward me? You see, when Paul said, "Let no man therefore despise him," he knew that your attempts to influence the attitudes of othersí opinions about me would transform your own. If you allow others to despise me without comment from you your attitude toward your pastor will not for long remain healthy.

#2 Action. Are you willing to "conduct" me? That is, are you willing to go beyond the peanut gallery fan who enjoys watching me perform? Are you willing to roll up your sleeves and jump in and help? Some of you run around involving yourself in all sorts of nice fun stuff, but it doesnít advance the cause of Christ. Help me do stuff. There is always a place here at Calvary Road Baptist Church for someone with a servantís heart.

#3 Appraisal. What do you think of me? Realize that I may not be much personally, but according to Ephesians 4.8 and 4.11, I am a spiritual gift given to this Church by the Lord Jesus Christ for the purpose of numerical and qualitative spiritual growth and maturity. I am valuable only because of the position and the role Christ has determined that I am to have in your lives.

10. Will you allow me to occupy the role and place in your life that the Bible declares is proper? I make no claim of superiority, but I am your pastor. Will you, therefore, treat me with the respect, with the deference, and with the honor called for by Paul?

11. For the most part, most of you do treat me properly. I both appreciate and thank God for you. But some of you, for your own spiritual well being, need to make some real progress in this area of your lives.

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