Dear Friend in Christ:
"Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity." 1 Timothy 5:1,2
Romans 12:4-5 tells us that the body of Christ is made up of many members...a single body made up of various groups of people. In the confines of the church...in ministry...there will be times when correction is needed...but how do you minister to those various groups of people? What do you do if the person needing rebuke is an older man? The Lord gives us an example to follow in Leviticus 19:32, "You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man..." When you minister to him a word of correction, you show him respect. I believe that when the elderly are disrespected it is an obvious sign that society is deteriorating.
Paul makes it clear that you do not rebuke an older man...but you exhort him as a father. You would call him aside and speak to him privately. You would not dishonor him by correcting him in front of people. The Lord says in Proverbs 15:1, "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." You cannot allow sin to go without confrontation...but you always confront it with gentleness.
What about a younger man? You would treat him with the love and respect you would treat your own brother. You would speak to him face to face...encouraging him. "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted." Galatians 6:1-2
As for older women? Well, the Word says to treat them with the same love and respect that you would treat your own mother. You don’t ignore their sin, you love them, you respect them and you bring correction. That requires deep humility...it requires a searching of the heart because you don’t want to bring a word of correction to anybody unless it’s necessary.
Now about the younger women...how are you to treat them? Paul in 1 Timothy 5:2 says "...as sisters, with all purity." If you have to correct a sister in the Lord...from a male perspective...you need to treat her like a sister with all purity. Treat her in the same way you would like your sister to be treated by somebody else.
Paul goes even further to clarify our attitude of correction, "And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will."
2 Tim 2:24-26
Are you being called upon to bring a word of correction to someone? Don’t shrink away from your responsibility...but always remember to treat people with love, kindness, gentleness, and respect... giving them the truth of God’s Word... and in that way exhorting them to repentance.
PS: A very good follow up book outlining the goals, reasons, and steps to church discipline is "This Little Church Stayed Home" by Gary E. Gilley. If you would like to read more on this subject, please see the enclosed card for ordering information.