The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them, in the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.1 Timothy 5:24-25
This is a wise observation. God was at work in that congregation in Ephesus, Paul is saying, and He was bringing to light things that were hidden. That is what Jesus does. He said,
What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs (Luke 12:3). Everybody is going to know about our deeds. God takes hidden sins and brings them to light. Many people think they are hiding their sins, but they are not. God is steadily working to bring those sins to public exposure. There are some people whose sins are conspicuous, and it is obvious they are heading for God's judgment. You would not elect them or appoint them to any office.
But they are not the only kind, the apostle says. Some people are skillful at hiding sin. They appear to be very dedicated, committed people, but there is rotten evil in their hearts all the time. If you get into the habit of electing people to office or appointing them into some responsible position without giving time to observe them, you will get into trouble.
Time will tell, the world's proverb says. God will bring it out. Get close to them, because the closer you get, the more obvious their evil will become.
But it works the other way, too. Some men appear retiring and quiet, yet they may be very good men. Such men may make the very best elders. So do not rush men into leadership. If they have something good going on quietly in their lives, even when their deeds are not conspicuous, Paul says, they cannot remain hidden. God will bring it all out if you get close to them. Abraham Lincoln's famous dictum,
You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time, is a wise word in choosing elders.
All this concerns how God's church functions, and it is very important that the church function as God intended it. I rejoice that in many places people are again taking very seriously what the Scriptures say about the church and church government; they are trying to correct the things that have crept in by tradition through the years.
Lord, thank You for Your concern for Your church, for what You have envisioned it to be and for what You are ready to make it as men and women willingly obey You, and walk in the power of Your Spirit.
Are we deliberately keeping open the doors and windows of our lives, allowing the fresh air of truth and love to clear away hidden agendas and secret sins?