Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands… The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. 1 Timothy 5:22, 24 (NIV)
All of us serve in the light of the coming judgment of God. God sees all things. Nothing is hidden from him.
“The sins of some men are obvious.” Some people are obvious sinners. You can see the pattern of destruction in their lives. “The sins of others trail behind them.” Other people are secret sinners. Behind what you see there is a life that is filled with all kinds of evil.
John Stott calls this the iceberg principle. Nine tenths of a person is hidden from view. He says, “Attractive personalities often have hidden weaknesses, whereas [plain] people often have hidden strengths. Timothy must learn to discern between… the appearance and the reality.”
People are not always what they appear to be. That is why we should exercise caution and care in appointing leaders, and why Paul says, “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands” (5:22). Don’t be hasty in appointing people to positions of leadership. Get to know them over time.
There is great wisdom in that advice. Beware of acting on first impressions. People may be better or worse than they first appear. Good and bad qualities surface over time.
Have you ever met a leader who gave a great first impression, and then turned out to be something very different over time?