Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. 1 Timothy 5:1–2
When a leader asked if I’d speak with her privately, I found Karen in the retreat center counseling room red-eyed and wet-cheeked. Forty-two years old, Karen longed to be married, and a man was currently showing interest in her. But this man was her boss—and he already had a wife.
With a brother who cruelly teased her and a father devoid of affection, Karen discovered early that she was susceptible to men’s advances. A renewal of faith had given her new boundaries to live by, but her longing remained, and this glimpse of a love she couldn’t have was a torment.
After talking, Karen and I bowed our heads. And in a raw and powerful prayer, Karen confessed her temptation, declared her boss off-limits, handed her longing to God, and left the room feeling lighter.
That day, I realized the brilliance of Paul’s advice to treat each other as brothers and sisters in the faith (1 Timothy 5:1–2). How we see people determines how we interact with them, and in a world quick to objectify and sexualize, viewing the opposite sex as family helps us treat them with care and propriety. Healthy brothers and sisters don’t abuse or seduce each other.
Having only known men who demeaned, used, or ignored her, Karen needed one she could talk with sister-to-brother. The beauty of the gospel is it provides just that—giving us new siblings to help us face life’s problems.
How can seeing others as your brothers and sisters help you treat them with “absolute purity” (1 Timothy 5:2)? How do you think Paul’s advice helps both sexes to flourish?
Dear Father, help me to treat others with respect and purity.
Along with 2 Timothy and Titus, 1 Timothy is one of three “pastoral epistles” written by Paul. As such, they were written directly to two pastors, Timothy and Titus, who were charged with caring for local churches. Paul was especially concerned with strengthening the faith of new believers while also countering false teaching. As Paul’s former traveling companion, Timothy had been mentored by him. Now Timothy had significant responsibilities as pastor in Ephesus, a city of about four hundred thousand people. Through Paul’s third missionary journey, God had established the church there (see Acts 19). Ephesus was also home to one of the seven wonders of the world—the temple to the goddess Artemis. Christianity posed a threat to this cult, and Demetrius the silversmith incited a riot against “the Way” (Acts 19:23–41). This “wonder” of the world would fade away as the Way (Christianity) flourished.