Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fitness for Leadership

The apostle Paul wants to remind Timothy of the sound doctrinal teaching he had received. Through his remembrance of the sound doctrine of Christian Biblical teaching, he would be fit to be an effective and good minister. Our lesson focuses specifically on I Timothy 4:6-16.

Paul begins his instruction at verse 6 by encouraging Timothy to remind the Christians of ‘…these things…’ and he would be nourished in the words of faith and of good doctrine also. Some of ‘…these things…’ are listed from verses 1-5. The Spirit speaks that in the last days some who had been given the principles of the Christian faith shall depart. They will give heed to seducing spirits. Satanic deception caused the fall of man (sin), and it will characterize the end of the age with its doctrines. There are an ever growing number of cults on the rise today, speaking lies in hypocrisy to intentionally deceive people. After leaving the Christian faith, it is easier for persons with sinful minds to worship idols, to forbid marriage, and to abstain from certain meats (foods) which God has created. Believers know they should call nothing God has provided for us to eat as common or unclean (Acts 10:15). Food has been set apart by the word of God (Gen 9:3; Mark 7:19; Acts 10:14-15; I Cor 10:25-26) and we must sanctify it in prayer (I Timothy 4: 5). We should pray that He will bless it and make it nourishment for us. Marriage is also set apart by the word of God (Gen 1:28; I Cor 7; Heb 13:4) and it, too, must be sanctified by prayer. Before entering the marriage we should pray that God will bless the marriage for His glory, for the union, and for others.

These were the things of which Paul instructed Timothy. On another occasion, he called the false teachers the ‘…enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly,...’(Philippians 3:18b-19a). They do not have their mind on heaven. Paul left no room for Timothy to doubt. He instructed him to avoid those who served as the bearers of “profane and old wives’ fables”. The fables flow from our lips, but they are not grounded in the Scriptures. For example, “I’ve always been taught…” Such tales are traditional and may seem harmless, but they are not scriptural. Paul warned Timothy to exercise godliness instead, i.e. reading the Bible, prayer, meditation, etc. If he is truly godly, he won’t be a loser. Those who put all of their exercise in the physical and worldly realm will have little profit, for it is not heaven-bound. Exercise in godliness is profitable because Christians have been given the promise of life eternal. Paul gave Timothy what he called a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. The believers had placed their hope in the living God who, by nature, inclination, and action, is the Savior of all believers. The type of hope he was speaking of was an unshakable, understanding that no matter what the believer’s circumstance, he would place his ultimate trust in God.

At verse 11 Paul encourages Timothy to command and teach these things that he had been teaching him. In an era in which younger people were to be seen and not heard, Timothy was not to allow older saints to look down upon him solely due to his young age. He was to battle their negative view by leading a godly life in conversation, conduct, love, zeal, dependability, and purity. A top priority for him would be to devote himself to a strict, edifying Bible-centered ministry. When it came to the Scriptures, he was to read them in public first. Everyone did not have a handwritten copy of the Scriptures. Then he would preach as well as teach the Christian doctrine. Timothy was also admonished not to forget the gift that had been imparted to him through prophecy. It is probable that a prophet announced the gift given by the Holy Spirit. Then the presbytery laid hands on Timothy to simply recognize the gift. We do not know specifically what gift Paul was referring to, but it may have been Timothy’s calling to the pastorate, his teaching, and/or preaching. A final priority was for Timothy to give himself totally to the work of the ministry. He must be in meditation and consider beforehand how and what to say. His wisdom and knowledge must appear as a continuous profit to all. Timothy was admonished to take heed and carefully monitor his life and the doctrine. In so doing he would save himself and his hearers from false teachers.

Written by Deborah Davis

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