1 Timothy 5:1-2 – Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.
Galatians 4:19 – …my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!
James 5:14 – Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 8:1 – Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.
In addition to physical parents the Bible teaches that we also have spiritual parents. This explains why we ought “not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father” and to treat “older women as mothers.”
Paul was a spiritual father himself. He refers to Timothy, Titus, and Onesimus as “sons” and calls the Christians in Galatia “my little children.”
When the Bible talks about older leaders laying on hands to anoint and appoint younger leaders, that means ministry transfers relationally. You cannot lay hands on anyone through the internet—you have to do life with them. Laying your hands on yet another book is not the same as someone laying their hands on you. One godly and wise real-life mentor is worth more than a thousand books and downloaded sermons because he or she knows you personally.
We can receive wounds from our spiritual fathers. Sometimes this pain cuts doubly deep. If someone has a failed father and then comes into the church family only to have a failed spiritual father, they have the painful double portion of a father wound.
But if you don’t let godly leaders into the down and dirty of your day to day, that’s a problem. The result is knowledge, which puffs up, and not love, which builds up. You can become an emotionally unhealthy person who thinks God provided Bible verses to beat people up rather than build people up.
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For the entire eight-week “Win Your War” sermon series from Pastor Mark, visit www.markdriscoll.org or the Mark Driscoll Ministries app.