Preventing Scandal in Leadership

Sermon notes – Pastor Milton Vincent – Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church
March 14, 2010

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A note from Terrie: These are my notes taken during our church service on Sunday mornings. I will do my best to represent each sermon faithfully and post by Wednesday evening. Please keep in mind that these notes are just that, notes, and are a condensed version of the sermon. My prayer is that not only will these posts help me to think about God’s Word and how to apply it to my life, but that each post will encourage others to do the same.

In I Timothy 5:19-25 Paul gives six instructions to show Timothy how to prevent scandal in the church.

1.  Formally entertain only substantiated accusations against another elder (verse 19). 
It is inevitable that false accusations will come. Even Jesus was falsely accused. Conversely, if the accusation is substantiated, then the accusation must be investigated. (Also see Matthew 18:15-17.)

2. Publically rebuke an accused elder who is found to be in sin (verse 20).
In this way others will fear and understand the seriousness of sin. Sometimes, it is best to “blow the lid” off in order to get everything out in the open thereby diffusing the situation.

Depending on the severity of the sin, there are several kinds of rebuke:
– Private rebuke of an elder
– Public rebuke but the elder remains in office
– Public rebuke but the elder is removed from office temporarily
– Public rebuke and the elder is removed from office permanently

3. Realize who is watching you (verse 21).
Paul publically exhorts Timothy to follow his instructions regarding elders. “In the presence of God and of Jesus Christ and of the elect angels I charge you…” God sees. Jesus sees. The angels see. (And in Timothy’s case, Paul is a witness.)

How a person responds to these exhortations will also be viewed by these awesome witnesses. This is true not only for elders, but for all of us. Everything we do is a public act before God, Christ and the angels. There is no such thing as complete privacy. We might be able to keep scandalous behavior a secret here on earth, but in heaven it is a public scandal. We have a cosmic audience!

4. Show fairness and impartiality towards both elders and their accusers (verse 21).
Avoid jumping to conclusions or leaning towards either the elder or the accuser. (Also see James 2.)

5. Be careful whom you commission as elders in the first place (verse 22).
Much trouble can be avoided by doing this. If an unqualified elder is put in office and sins, those who put him in that position share some of the responsibility.

Verses 24 and 25 refer to the examination process for elders:
v. 24 – Judgment here refers to judging whether someone is fit for the office of elder. For some, their sins are obvious and come before. For others, their sins (hidden and concealed) follow and are discovered after the judging process.

Therefore, it is better to err on the side of taking the time to be careful and thorough in the examination process for elders.

v. 25- On the flip side, some candidates for the office of elder may have good deeds that are very visible, but some may have good deeds that are more concealed. So, search not only for sins that might disqualify a man for the office of elder, but also, look for those who are quietly accomplishing good deeds. Don’t overlook qualified men if their good deeds may not be as visible.

6. Continuously keep yourself free from sin (verse 22).
(Also see I Timothy 4:12; 5:2; I Peter 3:2.)

If we are not continuously keeping ourselves from sin, we will sin! Be aware of this in life and ministry.

Regarding verse 23: At first this verse seems very random. However, Paul tells Timothy to “use a little wine for his stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities” directly after his admonishment to “keep yourself from sin.” Timothy was probably avoiding any hint of sin by abstaining. Paul sees that Timothy is struggling with his health and he wants him to know that drinking a little wine will not be cause for a scandal in the church. From this verse we can conclude:

– Timothy was an abstainer.
– Timothy was experiencing some ailments, some of which were stomach related.
– Timothy’s abstaining cheated him out of a medicinal product he needed.
– Paul instructs Timothy to drink wine for the sake of his physical health.
–  Paul counsels Timothy to drink only a little wine.
– Drinking “a little wine” for health reasons is not a scandal. 

Thank God Cornerstone has never experienced a scandal. Pray for our elders!


About Terrie van Baarsel

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