Treat One Another Like Family
There are several different metaphors used in the Bible to describe the church. Such as a flock, or a body, and then there is the one that is implied in this passage – a family. Paul makes a parallel between how we treat fellow church members to how we treat our family members. The Bible says,
Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
Paul uses the analogy of a family to describe the church in Ephesians, Galatians, and 1 Corinthians as well. He refers to himself as the spiritual father of Timothy; “my own son in the faith” and “my dearly beloved son” is how Paul opens both of the letters to Timothy. There are to be similarities between the church and the family. We are to be a church family in all manners.
When you think of family you think of intimacy, openness, care, and love. At least, that is what a family is supposed to be like. I understand that there are some dysfunctional families in the world. Some of you understand that far better than I do because you have been there, or are still there. I thank God for the family in which I was raised. None of us were perfect, but we loved and cared for each other. Home was…
- A place of security and love.
- A place to be sheltered from things that would harm us.
- A place to be healed from wounds that we had suffered.
- A place to be fed and nurtured.
- A place to be disciplined.
- A place to learn and grow.
Local churches are to be like that as well!
Think about your local church? Do you love your fellow members like family? Are you committed and dedicated to your church like you are to your family? Do you treat fellow church members like family, or like strangers? Church shouldn't be a place where so many strangers or acquaintances come together a few times a week to hear some preaching and singing. Church should be like a big family, getting together to worship the Heavenly Father, and minister to brothers and sisters in Christ. Church is to be like a family.
Not Everyone in the Family is the Same
While it is evident that the church is to be like family, it is also evident that not everyone in the family is the same. Gender and age play a role in how we are to treat one another. And Paul mentions four specific types of family members: older men as fathers, older women as mothers, younger men as brothers, and younger women as sisters.
Treat Older Members like Parents
How are we to treat those who are older than us? The Bible says “Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him.” We are to treat those older than us as we would our parents. How should you treat your parents? Do any of you know #5 of the Ten Commandments? It says, “Honor your father and your mother.” That is how we are to treat the older members of the church as well. The Greek word translated “rebuke” in 1 Timothy 5:1 is not used anywhere else in Scripture. It is a strong word that means “to rebuke severely, to upbraid and chasten”.
Listen, it's not my place to set my father straight. It's not my place to pull Dad aside and “lay down the law.” Are parents always right? Well, I'm one and I'm not always right. No, parents aren't always right, but they are to always be treated with honor and respect, and even gentleness. That is true of your biological parents, and it is how older members in the church are to be treated. You will never change an older person's mind by rebuking them or using harsh words with them. Hey, you may not agree with everything they do or say, but you must “entreat” them as if they were your parents. That word “entreat” means to “invite, call for, comfort.” Resist the temptation to try and strong-arm the older members of the church. Instead, we are to treat them as parents; to honor them.
Treat those Who are Your Age as Siblings
We are to treat those older than us as parents, and those more our age as siblings. How are you to treat your brother? Do you treat your brother the same as you do your father? No, you don't. You may be much bolder and more firm with your brother or sister than you can with your parents. Now, please listen, that doesn't assume some sense of superiority, but the occasion may arise when you need to confront and rebuke your brother.
If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. Luke 17:3However, if the need to rebuke or confront a brother should ever arise, we should take care to do that in a spirit of meekness and love. Paul said to the Corinthians and Galatians respectively:
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. Matthew 18:15
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12Treat the Younger Women ... with all Purity
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Galatians 6:1.
I want you to take special notice of the last two phrases of v. 2. Paul is instructing us in how to treat women in the church and he says, “…the younger as sisters, with all purity.” I don't think anything can disrupt a church or destroy a church like inappropriate behavior between a man and a woman in the church. Whether they are either single, or married, or if one is single and the other married. Impure behavior will disintegrate a church and destroy its testimony and ministry. Churches can never be too careful in this area.
Young men, let me specifically address you right now. We must do as Joseph did and as Paul instructed Timothy to do and that is “flee youthful lusts.” We must treat the younger women as sisters with all purity. I have two sisters and I love them with all of my heart. I care for them with every fiber of my being, but it is a brother’s love for his sisters. Men, we must guard our heart, consider our behavior and always check our words, so that Satan cannot divide and destroy our churches through some inappropriate behavior within the church. Purity in the church – both doctrinal and moral – is imperative if the church is to function for the Lord.
How are we to treat each other? Like family: the older men and women as parents; the younger men as brothers, and the younger women as sisters, with all purity.