1Timothy 4.9-16_Bible Thumper
June 20, 2010 Series: 1 Timothy
Topic: New Testament Passage: 1 Timothy 4:10–4:16
1Timothy 4.9-16_bible thumper
June 20, 2010
A Young Pastor
Happy Father’s Day. What we’ve been studying for the last eight weeks is really a letter from a Father to a Son. Up until now, Paul has spent time giving wise instruction about how to work and fight to restore the health of an Ephesian church in crisis. The destruction of any church always comes from within. Paul warned the elders in Acts 20 that fierce wolves, leaders within the church, liars who devote themselves to demon-inspired doctrines, would lead people astray. Pastors and members who once called themselves “Christians”, in Ephesus AND in Marysville, are abandoning the church and their faith because its leaders have abandoned the sound biblical doctrine in accordance with the gospel.
Timothy is God’s chosen and appointed man to lead the charge. Paul directs this young 30ish year old pastor to restore the purity of doctrine, the purity of worship, purity of roles, and the purity of leadership in one of the biggest churches in one of the biggest cities of the day. The task is incredibly daunting for what the letters reveal as a shy, immature, and inexperienced young man. To make matters worse, today’s passage makes it clear that the older people in the church do not respect young pastor Timothy—his age, singleness, and relative inexperience make it difficult for him to assert authority AND an easy target for critics. This makes his mission that much harder and explains why Paul has to urge (in the 1st chapter) him to stay—it is clear that he wants to leave.
Paul installed the elders. Paul is a spiritual authority for this church. Timothy is Paul’s representative, but it’s likely that he doesn’t really have a leading relationship with this church—he’ll always be “Timmy” to me. That makes everyone hesitant to follow his instruction, and Timothy even more slow to command it. But difficulty, fear, doubt, criticism, even resistance does not excuse responsibility. In today’s passage then, Paul addresses Timothy’s feelings of inadequacy (which all men have), giving him less instruction for how to shepherd the church, and more toward shepherding Timothy himself. My prayer is that we will all let Paul Father us a bit, as it is also wisdom for all of those who called into difficult situations you don’t like, ones you didn’t choose, but ones you cannot deny that God has placed you to lead in. **READ 1ST TIMOTHY 4.9-16**
V. 10 TOIL & STRIVE 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
First things First
Leading a church, leading a family, leading anyone anywhere is a difficult task. The English word for AGONY comes from this Greek word for STRIVING, is another athletic term like training. Paul doesn’t try and minimize the difficulty of the task, tell Timothy to stop being a pansy and buck up. Instead, he focuses his attention on the motivation behind why he is leading at all. Bad pastors, weak elders, and false teachers are motivated by the empty words of men’s praise. Good pastors, strong elders, and solid teachers are motivated by the empty tomb. Our hope does not flow with the changing tides of men’s approval. Our hope is set on proclaiming Jesus. A gospel-centered life is one where you are convinced that all possibility for success and happiness is predicated on you, or anyone else, knowing and savoring Jesus. Such an attitude will transform how you approach your faith and how you will lead your family or in your church.
V. 11 COMMAND & TEACH 11 Command and teach these things.
Reminded of that basic truth, Paul wastes no time encouraging Timothy to lead. He does not take even a moment to empathize with his fears, doubts, or resistances, he tells him to command and teach. I think Paul is affirming the spiritual authority that Timothy and all elders possess. And though it has been abused by men, and even though any sense of authority makes you recoil, elders are charged with commanded with teaching sound doctrine that the people are expected to obey. Whatever is taught must line up with the Scripture. Pastors cannot be doctrinal mercenaries nor can they be doctrinal pansies. There are “things” in for the church that are simply not negotiable.
“These things” are identified, so far, in the first 3 ½ chapters. They concern the purity of doctrine, the purity of the gospel, the purity of corporate worship, the purity of roles of men and women, and the purity of leadership. We must constantly measure ourselves according to Scripture, but according to the pastoral letters in particular. And I think is worth noting what has NOT been in the first three that have been idolized as “essentials” to a church’s “ministry.” There are many things we are not commanded to have as a church, but there are a few things we MUST have or we’re NOT a church. And those things we have, Timothy and all pastors are charged to teach—to explain from Scripture WHAT we do, and WHY.
V. 12 YOUTH & EXAMPLE
No one likes young Pastors
Perhaps after reading verses 10 and 11, Timothy is thinking, “easier said than done.” A late 50’s former Pharisee with battle scars naturally demands respect. It is easy for him to command obedience. Paul seems to address Timothy’s top excuse for not leading—his age. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. It is likely; that everyone in leadership is older than Timothy. Not only is everyone older, but they’ve all been in Ephesus longer. And we know how difficult it is for the older generation to listen to any loud “young buck” who hasn’t suffered like I have, hasn’t learned life’s hardest lessons yet, and who constantly references the 80s. Age and inexperience are often excuses used by those who refuse to lead and those who refuse to follow.
History is full of great young leaders who lived beyond their years: Martin Luther was in his early 30s when he nailed his 95 theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg; John Calvin who was 26 when he penned his landmark tome, Institutes of the Christian Religion; Charles Spurgeon who was only 19 when he was called to take the pastorate of London's famed New Park Street Chapel. Part of our hesitation with younger leaders today is that our world is full of men and women who are on extended adolescence. I meet more juvenile 30 and 40 year olds than I ever thought existed. There are husbands and fathers who are little more than children who have refused to grow up. Today, a growing number of people between the ages of 20 and 34 are taking longer to finish their educations, longer to establish themselves in careers, longer to marry, longer to have children, longer to become financially independent, and longer to give up the “fun”. They are, from all signs sexual, emotional, physical, intellectual, and social children. And all they while they demand “respect” and a “voice” while doing absolutely nothing.
How to lead (BY EXAMPLE)
And Paul basically tells Timothy if you don’t want to be despised, don’t do anything immature and thus despicable. The easiest thing for Timothy to do would be to either fight or flee. Paul tells him not to flee and now he tells him not to fight. He doesn’t say, “You’re the pastor”, “You’re the Dad”, “You’re the Husband”, they shouldn’t look down on you; it’s time to throw down with the old folks and put them in their place! A refusal to follow godly leadership can be sinful. But Paul tells him that not demand respect for your leadership, rather, to lead by example.
- SPEECH (word) We must speak and not be silent. We must speak the God’s truth and never falsehood. He must speak according to the need of the moment, whether it is to rebuke or comfort.
- CONDUCT (action) Our lives must be governed by the Word of God we proclaim. We must not be like the hypocrites Paul described to Titus 1.6 who professed to know God; but denied Him by works.
- LOVE (attitude) We must be motivated in all we do by a love for Jesus and a love like Jesus. Gospel love is sacrificial love, a love that costs us something, esp. for those who don’t deserve it.
- FAITH (commitment) We must demonstrate faithfulness to God AND to one another. Not only do we trust the power of God in all trials, leaders prove to be people of commitment.
- PURITY (self-control) We remain sexually pure in a world that is not. Just as was withEphesus, temptations surround us. Young leaders are esp. susceptible. We must fight for purity.
V. 13 DEVOTION & AUTHORITY
And as he sets an example of godliness, Paul now commands him to devote himself to the word. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Failing to build or lead a healthy church has little to do with youthfulness, and everything to do with faithfulness to the Word of God. The same goes with your first church. Preaching the Word was not something Timothy was to do after he had done other things; it was to be the MOST IMPORTANT thing he did.
Read, Exhort, and Teach
Part of every service in a Jewish synagogue, before the church, was the reading and explanation of the Old Testament. The practice was carried over into the church. Eventually, the New Testament books were written and were circulated amongst the churches to also be read aloud. Paul shows us that Leadership gains RESPECT (not by pulling the pastor card) but by living a godly life, and leadership exercises AUTHORITY (not by sharing good Christian idea for living) but by preaching and teaching God’s Word. There are no creative dramas, no videos or movie clips, no sermons full of psycho-babble hogwash, no music so “special”, NOTHING AT ALL that can compare with the open declaration of the Bible. The truth of God’s Word transforms hearts and people flourish where the Bible is read ALOUD and EXPLAINED plainly, boldly, and without compromise.
2Corinthians 4.1-6 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
This is why we preach books of the Bible verse by verse, this is why our sermons are longer than the average 20 minutes, this is why we sing a lot of Scripture, and this is why we teach kid’s from Scripture and not just entertain him. Ephesusis evidence that churches full of people grow weak, vulnerable, and ultimately die because they don’t preach the Word. And the same goes for families—you can preach a lot of things, Dad’s Wisdom, Christian Psychology (God helps those who help themselves), and flat out lies of the world. What is your house filled with most of the time?
V. 14-15 NEGLECT & IMMERSION
As a final encouragement for a young pastor who might have some doubts, he reminds Timothy of the call he has from God to do what he is doing: 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.
We can neglect our gift
Timothy was given a gift and call from the Holy Spirit that was confirmed by the elders. Not everyone is called and confirmed to be an elder at a church. But the Holy Spirit does give at least one gift to all people God saves. And as Paul warns Timothy not to neglect his gift, to not refuse to do what he is called to do, he speaks to us all. Some of you have neglected your gifts. And there are several ways to neglect your gift. 1) You can NOT USE your gift at all. 2) You can also fail to fulfill your call by not using your gift for God. 3) Then there are those who use their gift, even use it for God, but they fail to use it in the local church, as confirmed by elders.
Practice and Immersion
As a pastor, I confess that I have been divided in my own gifting. The truth is, I still desire to teach High School, I even dream about it. But I know that is not what God has called me to do right now. And, sometimes, my desire has caused me to neglect what I’m supposed to do because I have not, as Paul commends, IMMERSED myself in the things that God has called me too.
Perhaps you need to confess that you have not fulfilled your calling, maybe not as a servant of the church, but, maybe as a man, a husband, a wife, a father, a mother, or even an employee. If you have neglected you’re call, I know why. Such a failure always begins by devoting yourself to something other than the Word of God. As James says, you are a double-minded man (James 1.8), unstable in all your ways. How do I know that? Because the Word of God is clear in what you are called to do. And the truth is, everyone sees your progress or lack thereof. Paul told Timothy that he was to grow spiritually so that the whole church could see his spiritual progress and imitate it.
V. 16 CONCLUSION - WATCH & PERSIST 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Watch yourself & your teaching
I wonder if Timothy has the freedom to be human in this church, to show weakness, to reveal that he struggles with doubts. Perhaps he only felt safe doing that with Paul, in person or in writing. Before a man can teach someone else to feast on the Lord, he must feast himself. Paul warns Timothy to persist in testing his life and his teaching because, if he fails to resist temptation or to devote himself to God’s Truth, many other people will feel the consequences. Unfortunately, pastors, fall often. And when a pastor falls, he leaves a wake of destruction lasting years, usually overshadowing any good they may have done.
At some point they took their eyes off of Jesus and His Word. They may have preached to others, but they stopped preaching to themselves—like a Father who expects obedience from his children, or love from his wife, while failing obey his own Father or love his Savior. And I am convinced that many pastors, husbands, fathers, and all people, fail into a pattern of sin because they find themselves serving in churches, or living in families, where it is unsafe to be honest, open, and confessional about real struggles. They pull back from community and their private lives become dangerously secretive. It’s only a matter of time before a pattern of sin develops that destroys those they love. The may even begin to speak false doctrine in order to accommodate their sin.
Save myself and others
I admit, I don’t watch myself close enough. I admit, I am too weak to fight alone. We all have too many people watching our example, too many who will be suffer if I indulge my appetite for sin. I not only need to help me watch what I eat, but to encourage me to feast on God and His Word. FEAST TODAY.
CLOSING – Colossians 3.16-17