Old Testament reading: Jonah
Jonah is a most interesting character. His is one of the great Bible stories we teach to our children, yet Jonah certainly isn’t a preacher to be held up for commendation and emulation. However, before we are too quick to condemn the prophet, let’s consider the circumstances in which he was called to Nineveh. You recall from Amos 1-2 (Day 341) of the Assyrians’ (Nineveh was the Assyrian capital) practice of carrying away their captives with nose hooks. Jonah was told to “go to Nineveh… and cry out against it” (1:2). Let’s be honest, if you knew what Jonah knew about the Assyrians, would you be in a hurry to go into the middle of that massive city and cry out that God was about to overthrow the city because of her extreme wickedness? Now, I’m not excusing Jonah’s actions as he fled for Tarshish, but sometimes I think we are too quick to condemn the actions or sins of some Bible characters without giving due consideration to the circumstances. In the British Museum there is a stone relief of some of the atrocities of the Assyrians committed during this time period. Go to the link http://burlesonchurchofchrist.com/trustyourbible/slideshow.htm and see slide numbers 20-23.
New Testament reading: 1 Timothy 4-6
“Let elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine” (1 Tim 5:17). The word here translated “honor” means a value or a price paid. It is a financial term in this context, as we see earlier in verses 3-10 how the church is to financially support (“honor” – v 3) some widows when their families are unable or unwilling to do so. Thus, elders who labor full time for the church are worthy of “double honor,” meaning the brethren should not only provide his necessities, but also enough for a comfortable living. I fear we have missed the need for the true work of an elder and in its place laid upon our preachers the work the Lord intended for the local shepherds. Perhaps if we were more diligent in taking care of things at home, and making sure every part does its share (Eph 4:16) the church would truly grow and prosper as God intends.