Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. 1 Timothy 5:19
Fifty-five is an interesting number, perhaps one worthy of double honor. Today, I am elder with a foot in the door of elderly. Soon I will be able to see the start of the footpath to ancient! There are two fives in my age now; not the childish five plus five of ten or even the youthful five times five of twenty-five, but the slightly (in my case) more mature fifty and five years of fifty-five. I am as old as those folks I once thought were old folks, but with the realization that those old folks weren't all that old yet, and some were nowhere near as old as 55. Yet, there is also the knowledge that there may be many more of these birthdays to come, or, do we dare hope for that great snatching away of the church before this comes 'round again next year?
Paul helped in the beginnings of the new church with rules such as this one. And it brings to mind that this day, though special to me, is not all about me. Today, a man stands accused at trial and there is only one witness, the alleged victim. An elder is a position of responsibility and maturity, not just elder like me, and it was a position of responsibility held by this man. Paul told Timothy to refuse even to hear the accusation unless at least one other person could be found to bear witness. Since not every circumstance has two or three witnesses, crimes after all may be committed by one person against another in a lonely place, how does a judge or jury decide who is telling the truth?
We cannot help with that, none of us were there. Which brings us to our wisdom point for the day: be sure in our positions of responsibility to have witnesses. We might call them accountability partners, mentors, or even Bubba the church secretary, but we need to have that witness. And we need to love them as we love ourselves. Paul in his love for his disciple would not let Timothy decide the one-on-one cases, and that is a good thing for us to remember too. It may not be possible for me or you to look at one party or the other, both perhaps dear to us, and decide which is right or wrong, truthful or bearing falsehood. We also, like our brother Timothy, must remember to wait, the first one to accuse does not get the benefit of the doubt when the other party may be unaware that an accusation has been made. People, other than writers of course, do make up wild stories with some ulterior motive in mind. While we are waiting, there is always prayer: God does wonderful works in loving response to our prayers every day.Love in Christ Jesus,