1 Timothy 4:4-8

In 1 Timothy 4:4-8 Paul tackles how we should live with each other. He begins with a truth we always need to keep in mind – that all that of what God has created is good. “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” Paul is dealing with some who had legalistic views on what you could eat. We can eat all things. We receive them correctly when we receive them with thanksgiving, with a sense of gratitude towards God. We should receive the blessings of food, shelter, and comfort as gifts, and not as rights.

We are not limited by any kind of diet; what we eat does not make us more righteous before God (though what we eat may affect our health). Clarke explains “Both among the pagans, Jews, and Romanists, certain meats were prohibited; some always, others at particular times. This the apostle informs us was directly contrary to the original design of God; and says that those who know the truth, know this.” Paul reminds us to pray before eating a meal. The emphasis is not on asking God to bless the food; but on thanking God for the blessing of providing food to eat. Our prayer makes the food worthy of eating.

Paul reminds Timothy that his main job as a pastor is instructing the church. “If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.” The teaching needs to happen in different ways to be sure the entire flock is trained. In order to be a good minister of Jesus Christ, a minister needs to remain anchored in God’s word, carefully following the good doctrine. God’s truth is the one true test of whether a minister is truly doing God’s work. Their main role is to protect truth and train those in their care about that truth.

The priority must be on God’s Word, not on the words of man. Paul cautioned Timothy to keep focused on the Word, not on things that come from man. The greatest effort must be put into God’s Word, not man’s word. “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Paul challenges us to focus on becoming godly above any other kind of focus or training. Many during Paul’s time, like the world we live in today, spend a lot of time on physical exercise. But godliness is more important.

The word godliness comes from the old English word Godlikeness; it means to have the character and attitude of God. This was a worthy goal, much more worthy that the potential attainments of physical exercise. The idea can be translated that bodily exercise is good for a while, while exercising unto godliness is good for all eternity. Spurgeon explains “I assure you, and there are thousands of my brethren who can affirm the same, that after having tried the ways of sin, we infinitely prefer the ways of righteousness for their own pleasure’s sake even here, and we would not change with ungodly men even if we had to die like dogs. With all the sorrow and care which Christian life is supposed to bring, we would prefer it to any other form of life beneath the stars.”

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