1 Tim 5:22, “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily~| and so identify with the sins of others. Keep yourself pure~~.”
Sometimes it is hard to wait until the Lord brings the right man for ministry. Israel pushed the issue of a king prematurely and got Saul. He had all the traits of a great leader for Israel to glory in—-except for a submissive will and a heart for God.
Apparently, the church at Ephesus appointed some elders who turned out to be inadequate, which provoked the discussion of discipline of disobedient elders (1 Tim 5:19–-21). The command was to “stop laying hands on anyone hastily.” In their enthusiasm to spread the ministry, Israel chose some immature, untested men to leadership roles.
The “laying on of hands” typically means setting apart or ordaining to a specific ministry (e.g., deacons in Acts 6:6; missionary evangelists in Acts 13:3; pastors in
1 Tim 4:14 and 2 Tim 1:6) with the full endorsement of the church body. In the early churches, men were set apart for the ministry by the apostles (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5; 1 Tim 4:14).
This command is not to set men apart for the ministry “hastily” (not to be “prompt, swift, [quick,] or in a hurry”). The “also” in 1 Timothy 3:10 (“let these also first be tested; then let them serve”) implies some testing is applied for the bishop/pastor and deacon qualifications. Those responsible for the approval of leaders face the risk of “identify[ing] with the sins of others” (i.e., as a result of leaders being prematurely selected without testing).
The word identify means “to be a partaker [or] participant or to share together.” God’s chastening may fall on a church not only for a leader’s sins but also for all who participated in his selection as it did for Israel in selecting Saul.
Saul seemed to be a great leader, so Israel disregarded wisdom and chose the wrong man! The right man would not come along for another forty years. Would you have waited?
“Lord, we want to believe the best about others but sometimes lack wisdom in waiting for spiritual maturity to be evident. Keep us free of secret sins.”