We return to 1 Timothy chapter 4 starting in verse six. There is no shortage of people or advice in this digital world we live in but it is important for the Christian to know the source of that advice through the seeking and leading of the Holy Spirit. We are a community of faith who have set our hopes on the living God, the Savior of all people. In the verses that follow Timothy is given some practical advice; advice for all who seek to have a servant relationship with our God and to assume the duty of work and leadership of one committed to serving God. Here we find advice tempered with some good old fashioned courtesy. He is told to lay it before the brothers in a gentle, humble way and be kind in demeanor and action. I have had the privilege in past days to speak to others of the church, not as a pastor but just a simple layman. I always liked to say that I was not preaching but rather just doing some intense sharing. Teaching is another matter. You need to be well prepared and teach what you know in your heart to be the true word of God. In turn you must realize that you can’t bully someone into believing something. This is sometimes hard to understand for some but you can’t lead people where they refuse to be driven. Just as you know in your heart what you believe, they too must believe in their hearts what they come to know to be true.
Paul continues on with some very solid advice for those who wish to teach. We must understand that when we chose to teach we are not relieved of our responsibility to continue to learn. We can only give out what we have taken in. Case in point is that each day we must come to know Jesus Christ better, the more we know, the more we can share. The next thing Paul shares is powerful in itself. We must stay focused on the great truths of the word and not become entangled in things that can mislead or distract us from our goal of sharing the word. It is on the truth that people will fill their minds and nourish their faith. Paul likens physical training to be a good thing but it only develops part of the body and in time passes away. This comparing Christian development to the development of an athlete can be found elsewhere in biblical writings. To train in godliness develops the whole person in body, mind and spirit. These results will not only benefit the person in the present time but in eternity as well. Lastly we must remember the goal of living a Christian life is to live in the presence of God. This is why so many Christians suffer and toil so hard in this life to gain a nearer presence to God. The goal of being in God’s presence is worth all the toil and struggle of this life.
The next set of verses contain some interesting points to be considered. There were those who were concerned with Timothy’s age. We have no reason to believe he was all that young, he had been with Paul for at least fifteen years at this time. The Greek word for youth can be any one of military age up to at least forty.Timothy was in comparison to Paul a young man. Consider this, I have at times seen that the church can be a bit suspicious of the younger generation. It was no different in that time in the church. Figure this out, The Apostolic Canons laid it down that a man was not to become a bishop until he was over fifty, for by then ‘he will be past youthful disorders’.(DBS) ; whatever they may be. You may correct me if you wish but the church looked toward youth with a certain amount of suspicion. I am going to insert verses 11-16 in 1 Timothy to add some context to what I am sharing with you.
1 Timothy 4:11–16
Make it your business to hand on and to teach these commandments. Do not give anyone a chance to despise you because you are young; but in your words and in your conduct, in love, in loyalty and in purity, show yourself an example of what believing people should be. Until I come, devote your attention to the public reading of the Scriptures, to exhortation and to teaching. Do not neglect the special gift which was given to you, when the voices of the prophets picked you out for the charge which has been given to you, when the body of the elders laid their hands upon you. Think about these things; find your whole life in them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to your teaching; stick to them; for if you do, you will save yourself and those who hear you.
In these verses we find some very solid advice but admittedly difficult to follow. Apparently there were those that had raised doubts about Timothy, his age and his experience. Was he mature enough to do the work that he has taken on? This is sold stuff here folks. Paul told him to live in a manner that allowed his conduct to silence their criticism.
Yes, by his conduct they will see their suspicions to be unfounded. Then Paul speaks to the conduct to be expected. One of the greatest Christian virtues is unconditional love and sometimes it is greatly misunderstood. There are things we just naturally love, this is best explained as being an ordinary thing but here Paul is pointing to a love that is willed to be, from the heart yes but one with no preset boundaries. It is a love that seeks only the best for others, never bitter, resentful or vengeful, refusing to hate and never refusing to forgive. This is the type of love that requires all of our faith strength and constant application. A Christian leader cares for all people no matter what some may do to him. Then there is a complete loyalty regardless of the circumstances. There is no situation that we can’t overcome with Christ in us. The next being purity which is simply described as having an unconquerable allegiance to Christ and the standards and values of a Christ led life.
Come back next week and we will complete the fourth chapter of 1 Timothy.
Life is Good