Read 1 Corinthians 16.
This chapter brought this letter to the Corinthians to a conclusion. Tucked within these final thoughts, Paul said some things about Timothy (vv. 10-11) and the family of Stephanas (vv. 15-18) that are worthy of our consideration.
Regarding Timothy Paul wrote, “No one, then, should treat him with contempt” (v. 11) The reason? “…he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am” (v. 10b). Regarding the Stephanas family, Paul commanded the church “to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it” (v. 16). The reason they should submit is “they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people.”
We know that the Corinthian church played favorites among the Lord’s servants because Paul addressed that favoritism in chapters 1-2. This kind of partisanship extended to other servants of the Lord. Given what we know about Timothy from the New Testament, can you imaging treating him “with contempt” (v. 11)?
Yet that seemed to be a real potential threat for the crazy Corinthians.
Likewise, the family of Stephanas devoted themselves to serving God’s people but Paul was concerned that the Corinthians might not submit to them.
Unfortunately, the Corinthians were not the only Christians to mistreat servants of the Lord that they viewed as “junior league” or “less than” Paul and Apollos. Some church people won’t accept ministry or instruction from the elders of their church or from staff members; they want to hear from the senior pastor only.
This passage addresses that kind of attitude. All of us elders are servants of Christ and should be treated that way.
If you decide to try another church because your pastor isn’t preaching on a particular Sunday, is that not treating God’s servant “with contempt”?
If your elder contacts you and you don’t return the call or an email, is that an appropriate way to treat the Lord’s servant?
If you think an elder or his wife is too direct when dealing with people or too gentle or too… whatever… aren’t you doing exactly what Paul told the Corinthians not to do to Stephanas and Timothy?
Verse 18b says, “Such men deserve recognition.”
As the Senior Pastor here at Calvary, I get more praise than I deserve and my brothers who also serve as elders do not get enough. If you’re a member here at Calvary, you’ve been assigned an elder. How well do you treat him? How well do you respond to his attempts to serve you?
How can you show him and his family some love and appreciation now?