Thank you, Father, for your Word. Use it today, Holy Spirit, to enlighten my soul, embolden my testimony, straighten my walk, and elevate my praise.
Read 1 TIMOTHY 4:6-16
6 If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters,[a] you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.
11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
- 1 Timothy 4:6 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
In the deeply personal words of one person to another, may we hear and apply the voice of God to our lives.
For the third trustworthy saying, Paul focuses on fitness. Having noted the importance of physical training, Paul highlights how our spiritual fitness is of greater value. Although he doesn’t tell us what exercises he has in mind, he makes it clear that training in godliness requires us to ‘labor and strive’ (v 10) – terms that were synonymous with wrestling. Timothy’s defense against the godlessness that was infiltrating the church was training in godliness (v 7). Pause to reflect and compare with the challenges facing the church today. Would Paul say anything different to us now?
This encouragement from Paul to his younger protégé to challenge godless myths is followed by an endorsement of Timothy’s ministry. Paul affirms Timothy as gifted of God (v 14), despite his youthfulness. I’ve observed this as a challenge to young leaders who may be ministering among people twice their age. To the young, Paul says don’t let others look down on you because of your age; and while not explicitly stated here, I’m sure he’d warn older people not to do this.
These verses conclude with what Tom Wright notes as ‘the instruction clergy find it hardest to hear.’1 As a lay worker in Christian ministry, I can testify that the need for this instruction, to ‘Keep a close watch on yourself’ (v 16, ESV), is not restricted to clergy. This may be a salutary word for all of us as we consider who we are becoming. How is your spiritual fitness progressing? I previously worked in banking and recall being trained on identifying forged bank notes. We were trained by studying in great detail genuine notes, so it was easy to spot a fake. Look at the things Timothy is urged to devote himself to. I suspect myths and old wives’ tales were easy for him to spot.
Is there a gift you have that lies dormant? Ask the Lord to grant you courage to use it.
Forgive me, gracious Father, when I come to your Word distracted, when my prayers come from habit more than from my heart. Today, your Word has my undivided attention, and I pray that you will use it to change me.
1 Tom Wright, Paul for Everyone: The Pastoral Letters, SPCK, 2003, p52
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