Terry Baxter Devotional

Holding Christian Leaders to a High Standard: 1 Timothy 5:19-20

Holding Christian Leaders to a High Standard: 1 Timothy 5:19-20
“19)Do not accept an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. 20) Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.” 1 Timothy‬ ‭5:19-20‬
There are people who falsely accuse leaders for various reasons. Some are motivated by jealousy and others evil intent. Recognizing this, Paul adopted the Old Testament standard of requiring two or three witnesses to collaborate every detail. This could be applied two ways.
First, it could be two or three witnesses of the same sinful event such as stealing or fraud. Second, it could be two or three witnesses of the same kind of character flaw such as lying, anger or sexual indiscretions. Either were sufficient cause to investigate a matter. Why? Because character is important. Either scenario would show that the elder failed the test from 1 Timothy 3:2 of being above reproach.
Keep in mind, Satan is the accuser of the brethren. He works to discredit good leaders. False accusations can be very damaging. Even Jesus had many critics. These standards were intended to protect good people.
On the other hand, there are bad people who long to be in positions of influence and power. Satan strategically tries putting “Judas” on church boards or in pastoral roles. This charge to Timothy was intended to both protect the innocent and expose the wicked.
According to verse 20, when sinful leaders are exposed, they are to be rebuked in the presence of all, especially if they continue in their sinful ways. This public rebuke will serve as a warning to others. It will be a sober reminder that sin is not tolerated among Gods people.
When I read these verses, I am reminded of Acts 5:1-11 and the story of Ananias and Sapphira. They aspired for leadership but they were full of greed and deceit. The Holy Spirit exposed them and judged them with instant death. Acts 5:11 says; “And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard these things.”
Leaders are to be held to a higher standard. They pave the way for godly living and righteousness. When they live sincere and holy lives, the cause of God is advanced. The opposite is also true. When leaders compromise, the cause of Christ and the gospel are negatively affected.
To establish this principle, read the story of the kings. When evil kings ruled over Judah or Israel in the Old Testament, the whole nation drifted into sinful living and unrighteousness. So also, righteous kings often brought revival and reform.
The morals and sincere holiness of leadership in the church are important. They can bring light or darkness to the cause of Christ. They can advance the cause of Christ or set Christianity on a downward course within society.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global