1 Timothy 5:24-25 - The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever.
Paul is helping Timothy pick men to be elders. But the advice here is worthwhile for our own lives.
Some people have real charm. They can make you believe they’re outstanding. They conceal their shortcomings, sins, and failures, sometimes through deception or omission.
When selecting an elder or spouse or business partner, we can focus on what’s immediately present and immediately be extremely excited or passively disinterested.
In a word, Paul advises patience to Timothy:
- Some people are obviously entangled in sin and should be rejected as an elder
- Some people initially appear good but a small duration of time will bring their badness to the surface and show them also to be disqualified
- Some people do a lot of good and it’s obvious they’re good
- Some people seem unimpressive at first because they don’t have a “loud” life but a small duration of time will bring their good to the surface and show them also to be qualified
The great concern here is prematurely accepting people in Group 2 and rejecting people from Group 4.
“Do not be hasty,” Paul says. Or, said another way, “suspend judgment.” Make observations, talk to others, research well, take time.
Why? Elders are responsible for overseeing the health of souls in a church. If a bad elder is picked, the consequences will be in accord with the badness of their character. Some bad elders may “merely” neglect the souls of those under their care. But some may be wolves - actively harming the sheep in a variety of ways.
This is part of why Paul says, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor.”
We say, “A good man is hard to find.” And they should be respected deeply.
May we all be given wisdom into the people around us to know who they are and how much we should trust them. May God bring great people into our lives and bring great elders in our churches. May we honor the good elders in our midst. And may we likewise be shown who isn’t trustworthy.