When it comes to the care and feeding of that elusive creature: The Elder – the church has some specific responsibilities. The first is to provide which we covered last week. The second is to protect.
In 1 Timothy 5:19-21 we have a few simple guidelines for protecting the reputation and holiness of an elder. Church discipline is never a fun topic – but it is a necessary one.
The principles of Church discipline are laid out in Matthew 18:15-20. Let’s read that text again for a refresher. <read it> The quick principles then are:
1. Go talk to a sinning believer in private to urge them to repent.
2. If he refuses to listen, take one or two witnesses with you for another private meeting.
3. If he refuses to heed all three of you, inform the entire church.
4. If he refuses to heed the church – have nothing to do with him until he repents.
I feel the need for a brief rabbit trail here to motion to Matthew 18:19-20 there and ask you to pay attention to this church discipline context. This is not a gang up on God and you’ll get what you want prayer formula. This is a confirmation that in the midst of the distress of church discipline the Lord is there to confirm his word of holiness.
The question of our text in Timothy is whether or not the procedures are somehow different for an elder. The answer to that is “NO”. The principles of Matthew 18 are brought to bear on the pastor/elder as well as any Christian. The focus on this passage however looks at the first aspect with a desire to protect an elder’s public integrity.