Thursday, January 05, 2023

2023.01.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Timothy 4:12–16

Read 1 Timothy 4:12–16

Questions from the Scripture text: What were some doing with Timothy’s comparative youth (1 Timothy 4:12)? What was Timothy to do about this despising? By what means was he to put a stop to it? In what six areas, specifically, was he to be an example to them? What three public ministries would this personal example commend (1 Timothy 4:13)? What would he be doing if any of this lapse (1 Timothy 4:14)? What practice would facilitate his giving himself entirely to them (1 Timothy 4:15)? With what result before whom? How does 1 Timothy 4:16 summarize/recap this charge? Who is using this (cf. 1 Timothy 2:3) to do what two things?

How is ministerial authority maintained? 1 Timothy 4:12–16 looks forward to the second reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that ministerial authority is maintained by taking heed to oneself first, and then with a diligence already demonstrated in one’s own progress, to direct others in theirs.

There was a time when people rightly despised inexperience, immaturity, lack of progress, lightness, and half-heartedness in the ministry. The idolizing of youth and characterization of seriousness as misery and maturity as mythical has brought us into bizarre times, where we can hardly understand what the apostle is telling his young (probably in his 40s!) protégé: what Timothy lacks in years, he should seek to make up by diligence.

Let no one despise your youth1 Timothy 4:12. Timothy was to “command and teach” (1 Timothy 4:11). But there is a perpetual problem of people whom God is saving by means of His appointed ministry depriving themselves of its benefits by having too little regard for the minister himself. The apostle would tell another protégé, “Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you” (Titus 2:15). 

Be an example1 Timothy 4:12b, 1 Timothy 4:15.  But this authority is not enforced by domineering; it cannot be maintained by declaration and demand of status or imposed by force of will. Its purpose is God’s use of it to save the hearers (1 Timothy 4:16b), so it is strengthened by the demonstration that God is also saving their preacher. The preacher’s progress (1 Timothy 4:15b) indicates that the path that they are on together ends in perfect blessedness.

There are six areas, specifically, in which the apostle commands the pastor to be an example. Six areas in which the people should be aiming at making “progress,” and in which therefore it is a help to them that the pastor’s own progress would be evident. 

  • in word; if his words are going to be used to teach, then they should never be idle or useless (cf. Matthew 12:36–37; Colossians 4:6), and they should certainly never be rash or malicious (cf. Proverbs 12:18; Colossians 3:9–12).
  • in conduct; God Himself, Christ Himself, is the standard. But if the man preaching this standard isn’t being conformed more and more to that standard, he makes himself the occasion of others’ disregarding it. 
  • in love; outward keeping of rules is not Christian behavior if it does not flow from faith that is energized by love (cf. Galatians 5:6, Galatians 5:13–14; Romans 13:8–10; Matthew 22:37–40; John 13:33–35). The pastor who is not making progress in love to God, neighbor, and brother may be an example of the fleshly counterfeits of the condemned, but he is not an example of progress in the Christian life. 
  • in Spirit; again, the man’s spirit must be being formed by the Holy Spirit. This is something that, being inward, he himself cannot produce. He must pursue it by the means of grace for himself as a dependent upon grace, just as his pursuit of it for others is also by the means that the Spirit uses to form their spirits. 
  • in faith; he is always to be meditating upon (cf. 1 Timothy 4:15a) the truth that he believes about Jesus (cf. 1 Timothy 3:16). He rejects all manmade religion (1 Timothy 4:1-31 Timothy 4:7; cf. Colossians 2:20–23), but is always full of how Jesus is reigning in glory, making Himself to be preached among the nations and believed upon in the world. 
  • in purity; there is no room in the minister’s life for impurity, because there is no room in the believer’s life for impurity. He must be single-minded, always aiming at what will honor the Lord best and serve the Lord most, rather than seeing how much fleshliness he can get away with tolerating.

Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to teaching1 Timothy 4:13. It is the truth that the Lord uses to make an example out of a minister, because it is the truth that the Lord uses to conform believers to Christ through the ministry. Thus, the truth must be read; the mere reading of God’s Word is its own component of worship and discipleship. The truth must be applied; exhortation is bringing the truth to bear in every useful way.  The truth must be taught; there can be no proper application without the formation first of the understanding. 

Do not neglect, but continue heedfully1 Timothy 4:14-16. This discipleship plan was not the best practices plan produced by an elite think-tank. It is what God has ordained to give His church through the preacher (1 Timothy 4:14a), as He Himself has proclaimed in Scripture (verse 14b), which He Himself signified on earth by the actions of others whom He had appointed from heaven (verse 14c). Such a divine calling is worthy of cultivation that forms the entire setting of one’s life (“these things cultivate” being a more literal translation of 1 Timothy 4:15a) and the core substance of one’s life (“in these things, Be!” being a more literal translation of the next phrase). The command “take heed” translates a verb that indicates both strenuous effort and attention to detail. 

God is saving people! Though we do not all have the calling of a minister of the gospel (cf. Ephesians 4:11–14), we do all have a calling to participation in that work (cf. Ephesians 4:15–16, Ephesians 4:25–29). Surely, it is worth great devotion and diligence to participate in God’s own work in God’s own way.

In each of the six areas, how do you most need to progress? What is God’s method for progressing you? Who are God’s ministers for progressing you? To what things in life are you giving more thought, time, and effort than this progress in yourself and others?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for sanctifying us unto salvation through Your truth: read, applied, and taught by men whom You have appointed. Forgive us for when we take them or their ministry lightly. Forgive them for neglecting their own progress, and save us both we ask, through Jesus Christ, AMEN!

ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH538 “Take My Life, and Let It Be”

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