Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Book of 1 Timothy

The Life Project: 1 Timothy
Candice Roberts

Paul writes to Timothy as a father would write to a son. He has invested much in young Timothy and wants nothing more than to encourage him as a minister to the church in Ephesus. Paul’s desire is to give him important practical advice for leading a church as well as for Godly Christian living. In 1st Timothy 4:14, Paul encourages Timothy to “not neglect {his} gift, which was given through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on {him}.” Paul is very concerned that Timothy realizes his God-given destiny despite the tremendous obstacles that are in his way. In 1st Timothy 4:12 Paul has this to say, “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.” Though it is found in the middle of the letter, this verse could well be the sum and substance of the letter. All the other verses lend themselves to understanding this one passage. The epistle is brimming with practical advice for Timothy and is fitting for every Christ-follower who desires to live a Godly life and leave a Godly destiny.

Paul’s first charge to Timothy is to be an example in speech. This is more than a charge to “no swearing”, though clean language is certainly a part of it. Paul’s charge goes deeper and becomes more uncomfortable to those of us who think our speech is above reproach. Paul deals a lot in this letter about the sin of slander and mindless chatter. Paul warns against malicious talk and busybody nonsense. The sin of speech is so easy to fall into. We may consider it to be a lesser sin. After all, who is harmed by a little gossip? It’s innocent, right? Wrong. Gossip, malicious talk, slander all cause division amongst the body. They also create in us a critical spirit and keep us from doing the Lord’s work. Instead of mindless chatter, we should be engaging in a powerful prayer life. Paul’s challenge is for every believer; instead of gossip about people we should be praying for people. Instead of speaking their name to another, we should speak their name to our Heavenly Father.

Along with speech, Paul charges Timothy to be blameless in conduct. How we conduct ourselves is the most visible evidence of our commitment to Christ. In Paul’s letter to Timothy he warned of drunkenness, violence, and sexual immorality. Instead Paul encourages lives of temperance and modesty. These attributes stand in stark contrast to our world today. In America we glorify the outlandish and excessive lifestyles of celebrities. We celebrate the brazen and bold. We call the modest and temperate prude. Prude or not, this is how God calls us to live. In this letter Paul challenges women, but ultimately men as well, to be adorned with only good deeds. If we allowed this purity of conduct to permeate our hearts and take shape in our lives, imagine how different we would look to the world around us. Imagine the power of our witness if we really were to give our conduct over to the Lord.

Timothy is also encouraged to be an example to the believers in the way that he loves. Paul talks about two types of love in this letter. The first is love for people and the second is love of money. Paul encourages the believers to treat each other like family. 1st Timothy 5:1 says, “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”

And while we should love people, Paul tells us to resist the temptation to love money. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, he says. He encourages the believers not to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God. I have always found it interesting to watch what people are in love with. You can certainly tell a lot about a person by what they love. As followers of Christ we should love the things that Christ did; people; and not waste our time on things that have no lasting significance.

Paul says that Timothy should be an example of faith. The faith that Paul points Timothy to is a simple one. It is a faith that says, I am the chief of all sinners but God in His great mercy saved me and wants to save everyone. Paul actually discourages meaningless arguments over doctrine and instead encourages focus to be put on God and Jesus the ransom for our sin. Finally 1st Timothy encourages this young pastor to be an example of purity. I love the different definitions of purity; all adding a nuance to what it means to be pure. The first definition is freedom from contaminants or anything that is harmful. Imagine being free of those things which harm you today. What more could you accomplish with your life? Definition number two is virtue and innocence like that of a child. Didn’t Christ call us to have childlike faith? Surely Paul had this in mind when he called Timothy to a life of purity. The final definition of purity is the degree of saturation of a color. We are to be so saturated with Christ that nothing else can be seen. This is purity.

As we look at the charges that Paul set forth for Timothy, we should be inspired to live a life worthy of our calling. Our utmost desire should be to please our Father and to represent Christ well to those around us. If we can follow the directives of 1st Timothy we will be well on our way.

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