“Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”
This is going to be just a short little postlet (or bloglet?), because these two verses don’t fit all that smoothly with the rest of the chapter. I mean, obviously they fit, because it’s the Bible and God didn’t write it wrong, but these two verses are more general while the rest of the chapter deals with specific kinds of people.
Anyway, I love these two verses because it sounds like the kind of utopia I’ve always dreamed of, and I’m excited because I believe this is what heaven will be like. It’s not just saying to be nice to everybody ~ it’s telling you to go beyond that and to give people the kind of respect they deserve, as well as to love them like they’re your own family. That’s the kind of human-to-human relationship that the church has (or SHOULD have) that the rest of the world doesn’t, and it’s all because of the love God has for us, and how we strive to be like Him.
We must respect older people for the dignity of their age. They have experience and wisdom that we can only dream of matching one day, but we can’t achieve until we’ve got as many years on us as they have. Lately my Grandma has been really into us kids (or young adults ~ whatever, society) respecting our elders. We’re a bit confused at it because we’ve ALWAYS respected our elders, but I guess it makes sense from a certain point of view because a lot of young people nowadays don’t seem to respect anybody for anything, unless it’s some celebrity or champion of the sports or music world. Even though my cousins and siblings and I don’t really have a problem respecting our elders, it’s a good thing to keep ground into our characters for later in life when we ~ HORROR OF HORRORS! ~ start being held as role models by younger people.
Since Timothy is a young guy at this point, we can assume that this whole book ~ and the next one ~ is specifically designed for young people. Honestly, they give us everything we need to know about surviving youth ~ not only surviving, but THRIVING. It tells us how to treat people our own age, with whom we always seem to have so many problems. We can’t fly off the handle at everything someone says to us. We’re young, we’ve got tough things going on ~ so do they! And it’s not going to help their unstable self-esteem or anything else if we start screaming at them when they do something wrong. Rather, we should correct them with love and tenderness, and sympathy toward their position. I’m not fond of the word “rebuke” because it sounds so harsh, but I guess it’s not always as intense as it sounds. You can rebuke lovingly as well.
“Brother” and “sister” are two words that, to me, hold a great deal of charm. When you think of your brother or sister, you generally think of your biological siblings, and everybody’s had arguments and fights and rifts with their siblings. But when Paul says to treat those around you like they’re your brother or sister, it means something much different than what we tend to think. Your brother or sister is someone close to you, and dear to your heart. It’s someone for whom ~ though you may not admit it ~ you would be willing to do anything, or almost anything, and you don’t want any harm to come to them. Brotherhood and sisterhood are really special relationships that we take for granted way too often.
But we are young, are we not? So we have this issue with attraction, which the vast majority of people have to deal with in their teen and young adult years. That’s why Paul specifically cautions Timothy to treat these people with ABSOLUTE PURITY ~ not being nice to them because you’re attracted to them, but because they are your faith-sibling and that’s what you should do. Don’t do it in order to impress them or make them like you ~ do it because that’s how they should be treated, and that’s how Jesus would treat them.