“Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.” 1 Tim 5:22.
The laying on of hands here was the ceremonial approval given to men, Acts 13:3; 1 Tim 4:14. If the Preacher or the Elders are hasty to install someone as an Elder without doing the due diligence to protect the church against an unqualified man, the Preacher and Elders will share in that man’s sins.
The church is designed by God to grow and come to maturity, Eph 4:11-16. This will lead it to the point where certain men are qualified to serve in the work of Shepherding the flock, 1 Tim 3:1-7; Tit 1:5-9. This is a time of blessing but it can be a time of destruction if the wrong men are appointed to the position of Elder.
It’s true that some men will hide their true selves. “The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after.” 1 Tim 5:24. Even a lack of spirituality will be concealed and not become evident until he stands before God’s judgment throne. For this reason the church must be extra diligent to follow appoint Elders who meet the qualifications. Hence the reason Timothy is told not to be hasty in laying hands upon anyone.
A 75 year old Brother in Christ told me about the congregation he just left that installed five Elders. The present Eldership was approached by him about some of the selections but his concerns were ignored. When the Leaders were warned that one of the men was a novice, the Elders said they will teach him after appointing him! Who can doubt the foolishness of this?
So that we do not share in the sins of others, let’s make sure that we raise up god-fearing men who live the Christian life. And when they are appointed Elder, feel confident that they are exactly what God designed the Elder to be. We will share in the sins of others if we cut corners.
I say this in love. Dan Mayfield