Archive for the ‘1 Timothy’ Category

1 Timothy 6

1 Timothy 6 has Paul writing to Timothy about riches and godliness.  “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world”.  There is a false doctrine that teaches godliness as a means to get material gain.  If we live as a Christ Follower, we’re going to have financial blessing.  That’s just not true.  God wants us to become godly, but also content.  Our focus in life should not be getting more, which is actually greed.  Our focus needs to be on gratitude for what we have recognizing that everything in this world is not ours, and it certainly won’t go with us into eternity.  Our stuff does not corrupt us, it is how we think about our stuff and our desire to get more that is the issue.

Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs”.  Money is not bad in and of itself.  It’s the love of money and making it the priority that causes our heart to be drawn away from the eternal riches God desires us to pour into and get caught up on earthly riches which will go away.  Chasing wealth can lead us away from walking with Jesus.  It messes up our priorities and causes us to make bad choices.

Rather than chasing money, Paul challenges us to “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness”.  These are the things that God wants to see as the priorities of our life.  They don’t just happen because we become Christ Followers.  We have to pursue them, and work to build them.  And it is a battle every day.  “Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses”. We have a very real enemy who wants to distract us with earthly things like money and stuff and divert our pursuit from that of God, to the things of this world.  We have to stay focused on eternity and what we have been called to be and do.  We have to fight to walk moment by moment with Christ.

We’ve been given the commandments to effective living – to love God and to love others.  Paul reminds us to keep those main things the main thing.  “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ”.  Our charge is to live our lives as a testimony of our faith in Christ.  We are to stay the course and walk the walk before all those in our patch.  To do that, we have to focus on godliness, not gaining riches.  If we don’t we certainly are at risk of being pulled away from God and focusing on the wrong things.  Godliness is our charge.  God will take care of the rest!

1 Timothy 5

1 Timothy 5 has Paul directing Timothy around how to treat people of all ages in the church.  He divides them into four different segments.  “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity”.

  1. Older men – fathers, treated with respect, not rebuke
  2. Younger men – brothers, or partners in the ministry of the gospel
  3. Older women – respect and honor as mothers caring for those in their patch
  4. Younger women – sisters, treated with purity above reproach

Paul doesn’t define the exact age at which you move from one area to another.  Bottom line, there is a way we are to treat each other, and in every case, it begins with recognizing the value and importance we have in God’s plan.

He goes on to address how the church is to assist widows and those in need.  There is no doubt that God has a special place in His heart for widows and those in need.  Back in the day Paul wrote this, there was no social assistance from the government.  The church was the only place providing support.  But just because the government has created some level of support doesn’t relieve the church of the responsibility to care for those in need.  Paul is clear that in addition to the church, families carry some responsibility to help their own as well.  “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for  members of his household, he has  denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”.  Strong words about our responsibility.

Paul also addresses how we are to treat elders – both those who lead and those who teach or preach.  “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching”.  Paul tells us that those who lead and preach need to be given ‘double honor’ or basically taken care of financially.  In his time, and he is a perfect example, many who were preachers and leaders had a full time day job to support themselves and did the work of the ministry on the side on their own time.  We are to take care of those who serve the church well.

Paul ends reminding us that how we live matters.  “The sins of some men are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden”.  It is easy to see the struggles and sins some have; but with some others, the sins are hidden.  But hidden sins don’t mean they are excused and given a pass.  Sin is sin whether anyone else knows about it or not.  Sin will come clear when we stand before God on Judgment Day.  These words are guidance to Timothy that there is more to a person than what is obvious on the outside.  God’s discernment is critical to helping us know exactly what lies in the heart of man.  He’ll make it clear when we stand before Him, but until then, we have to seek His guidance in selecting people to lead and preach.

1 Timothy 4

1 Timothy 4 has Paul warning about what was to come.  “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth”.  The Holy Spirit gives Paul a revelation about what will come:

  • The danger of apostasy (some will depart).
  • The danger of deception (deceiving spirits).
  • The danger of false teaching (teachings of demons).

The enemy wants to destroy God’s truth and the way it will happen is by raising up people who will teach something contrary and deceptive.  These false teachers at one point may have believed, but have had their consciences burned to the point they no longer respond.

Paul is clear on how we need to deal with this false information.  “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 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.  The same work and commitment that others put towards physical exercise should be put toward the pursuit of godliness.  It doesn’t just happen – we have to work toward it.  But it is the promise for the future.

Here is the focus we need to have: “we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe”.  Our hope should not be in ourselves and what we think we can do.  God alone should be the source of hope.  He alone is the Savior of all men.  It is Jesus and Him alone.  Clarke says this: “What God intends for ALL, he actually gives to them that believe in Christ, who died for the sins of the world, and tasted death for every man. As all have been purchased by his blood so all may believe; and consequently all may be saved. Those that perish, perish through their own fault.”

Paul charges Timothy with carrying the torch.  “Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers  an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity….Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress”.  Timothy was a young preacher and had to fight for respect.  Paul makes it clear that it is through how he lived that he would earn that.  Our speech, conduct, love, faith, purity – these things let the world around us know who lives in us.  It’s about character and integrity and staying true to God’s Word.  No matter our age, how we live matters and gives us a platform to share the good news of Jesus in our life!

1 Timothy 3

1 Timothy 3 has Paul addressing the topic of leadership.  He specifically addresses two key positions – that of an ‘overseer’ (bishop/elder/pastor) as well as that of a ‘deacon’ (worker/server).  He begins by defining what it takes to be a good overseer.  “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task”.  It’s important to note first of all that leadership is something to aspire to.  This isn’t just a description of preachers, but those who ‘watch over’ the church.  Clarke wrote “The state has its monarch, the Church has its bishop; one should govern according to the laws of the land, the other according to the word of God.”  First and foremost any leader must be under the authority of God and His Word.

Paul goes on to make a list of characteristics that define this oversight leadership role.  “Therefore an overseer must be:

  • above reproach
  • the husband of one wife
  • sober-minded
  • self-controlled
  • respectable
  • hospitable
  • able to teach
  • not a drunkard
  • not violent but gentle
  • not quarrelsome
  • not a lover of money
  • must manage his own household well, with all dignity 
  • keeping his children submissive
  • not be a recent convert
  • must be well thought of by outsiders”

Paul doesn’t focus on the structure of leadership in the church, but rather the character of the leaders themselves.  God has specific qualifications for leaders.  They shouldn’t be chosen at random, or by merely a willingness to say yes when asked to serve.  Leadership is about character.  And God gives us a very defined list of what matters to Him when it comes to character.

But it doesn’t end here with defining the character of an overseer.  Paul goes on to define the character of deacons or those who lead by serving.  These are typically not the folks who are up front but quietly doing the work of the ministry behind the scenes.  They make it happen.  “Deacons likewise:

  • must be dignified
  • not double-tongued
  • not addicted to much wine
  • not greedy for dishonest gain
  • must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience]
  • be tested first
  • prove themselves blameless
  • must be dignified
  • not slanderers
  • sober-minded
  • faithful in all things
  • the husband of one wife
  • managing their children and their own households well

There are some similarities between the two lists for certain.  Leadership matters to God, and to His church.  Some believe that anyone can serve in the church, but clearly God has very high standards for both those out front and those in the shadows when it comes to leadership.  Character matters no matter what we are doing.

Paul goes on to remind us that God rewards those who lead faithfully.  “For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus”.  Not only does God remember faithful service, but it is a great reward for us as we serve too.  Some feel the role of deacon which is often done quietly and behind the scenes is not all that important.  But the reality is that there will be far more who serve in that role that receive a great reward than overseers.  There are far more needed to serve, and we have to remember to equate servanthood with leadership.  The ultimate leader is a servant leader and the role of deacon affords both.

1 Timothy 2

1 Timothy 2 has Paul making sure to put priority where it belongs – on prayer. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people”.  He lists four categories of prayer:

  • Supplication – which is simply asking for something
  • Prayers – broad communication with God
  • Intercessions – requests we make for others
  • Thanksgivings – gratitude for what God has done

Prayer is a broad area, and Paul asks us to pray for all people.

The Navigators built upon this passage with others in scripture to create “The Prayer Hand” which expands the areas of prayer to five:

A – adoration or praise of God

C – confession of our sin

T – thanksgiving for what He has done

S – supplication – asking for things we want or need

I – intercession for others

Prayer is a significant discipline for one who desires to walk well with Christ.  These five areas can be a guide to use in regular prayer.

Paul goes on to remind us who to pray for in addition to ‘all people’.  We are to pray for “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way”.  We are to pray for our leaders.  He doesn’t say to pray if they are from the right political party.  It isn’t based on whether we like them or not, or voted for them in the last election.  It isn’t about what they think or say.  Prayer for leaders is part of our responsibility as Christ Followers.  God is in control of all things, our role is to pray.  The benefits are amazing – peaceful, quiet, godly and dignified life.  Not a bad trade off for some prayer!

Paul makes it clear that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”.  God wants everyone to know His Son Jesus Christ.  Why?  “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man and Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all”.  It’s pretty clear – Jesus is the only One who can help us bridge the gap between our sin and God’s forgiveness.  Without Him, we’re toast.  We don’t have a chance of living up to God’s standards on our own.  We will be judged and sent away from God, never to enter heaven. Jesus is the only answer to our sin problem.  Do you have a saving relationship with Him?

1 Timothy 1

1 Timothy 1 has Paul writing to Timothy and urging him to remain in Ephesus to get after those in the church who were teaching doctrine that was false and not aligned with God’s truth.  The foundation of the gospel is this: “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith”.  It’s all about love – God’s love for mankind, and subsequently our love for one another.  That’s how you can boil down God’s plan – He loved us with unexplainable love that should penetrate our hearts and cause us to love one another the same way.

There is a conflict for some to understand how grace and the law can co-exist.  “Now we know that  the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted”.  The law helps us understand where we fall short.  It makes clear the truth that left to our own efforts to meet God’s standards of holiness and righteousness, we’re going to come up short.  We can’t make it on our own.  That’s where the gospel comes in.  It allows us through grace to be set free from our shortcomings in meeting the law and receive the gift of forgiveness even when we don’t deserve it.

That was Paul’s mission, to tell the world of the amazing love expressed through Christ as God’s grace.  “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus”.  Paul was a sinner like all the rest of us, but when he accepted God’s grace through Christ, he was set free from that sin and made righteous through Jesus.  That’s what the gospel is all about.  It’s God’s love providing a future for all of us as sinners, if we receive the gift God offers.

Paul makes clear why Jesus came to this earth as a baby some 2000 years ago.  “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life”.  Jesus came for one reason – to save sinners.  That’s been God’s plan from the beginning.  He offered His only Son sacrificially on the cross to carry the burden of our sin and offer us mercy and grace through a relationship with Jesus.  That is the only way we can be freed from the penalty of our sin because we certainly will not achieve God’s standard through keeping the law.  Jesus is the only solution to our sin problem.  Have you dealt with the sin in your life?  Thinking God might forget or overlook it is a bad strategy.  Sin will be addressed.  Jesus and the grace God offers through Him, is our answer.  Are you ready?

I Timothy 6

1 Timothy 6 has Paul exhorting Timothy about dealing with those who “teach a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ”.  We all know that many don’t agree with God’s Word.  They want to live by their own ideas or follow something other than the Truth.  So Paul tells us the root of that – he lists the traits of one who is unwilling to accept God’s Word:

–       “puffed up with conceit

–       understands nothing

–       unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words

–       produce envy

–       dissension

–       slander

–       evil suspicions

–       constant friction

Those who refuse to follow God’s Word are on their own mission – they have their own agenda – and we must stay clear of that.  We are charged to study and understand God’s truth and to protect and use it to live life.

In fact – Paul gives us this direction – “there is great gain in godliness with contentment”.  Are you content in Jesus?  Do you realize that is the plan for us if we live as Christ Followers should?  We should be living godly and content lives.  We should be absolutely filled with joy in our circumstances if we are walking with God.  Does contentment mean life is perfect?  Not at all – but it does mean we understand this truth: “we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world…. if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content”.  It all comes down to ownership and way too many of us think we own things.  We don’t – it all belongs to God and we are merely stewards of what He allows us to have.  We need to get that through our thick skull and realize that God gives us enough.  When we continue to seek more – well the results are not good: “those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires….the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils”.  If we want to succeed in our walk with Jesus we have to let go of the desire to be rich.  We have to flee the temptation of having much and learn contentment with what God entrusts to us.  Is it wrong to want more?  It is if it keeps us from experiencing contentment in our walk with Jesus. 

Paul wraps this letter with things we need to do to live as a man of God.  How we live really does matter.  There are things that make us godly and holy and we need to be focused on those things.  “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called….keep the commandment unstained….guard the deposit entrusted to you”.  It really comes down to us taking charge of our lives and pursuing the right things.  We need to flee that which will pull us away from God – the love of money and self – and pursue with all our heart that which makes us like Him.  What are you chasing?  Where are you spending your time?  Is it all about you and what you are accumulating here on earth or are you focused on heavenly things and eternity.  That is what we need to have in our sights.  The rest of it all goes away.  We didn’t bring anything with us when we entered – we won’t take anything with us when we leave – except for our walk with God.  That is what matters.  How are you doing with yours?

1 Timothy 5

  1 Timothy 5 gives us some insight into how people should relate to one another.  Paul begins with some great words that apply to me: “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father”.  I am looking for a bunch of encouragement to fly my way!  But we truly do need to learn to encourage older folks – they have much to share and wisdom that can only be learned over the passage of time.  Who have you encouraged today?  He goes on to tell us to “treat younger men like brothers, older women like mothers, younger women like sisters, in all purity”.  The theme is pretty clear – we are family.  We need to treat each other that way – and take care of one another.

In fact Paul really drives home that point in the middle of this chapter as he exhorts us about caring for widows.  He has some pretty strong words for us about our responsibility: “if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”.  That family theme gets deep here – we are responsible to care for those of our household.  I really saw this in action when we visited China last month.  They do care for their own and there is a deep sense of reverence and respect for them.  How did we get so far from that in the US?  We have a charge – to care for those in our family – and we need to really consider what that means.  He didn’t say to do it if it is convenient or easy – Paul tells us if we don’t we have really denied the faith and are worse than an unbeliever.  Our actions matter and how we live in regard to family is an important part of God’s expectations.

He goes on to speak about sin.  We prefer to just sweep that discussion under the carpet which is what the church in America has become pretty good at.  But listen to these words: “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear”.  The church needs to be very clear on sin.  God can’t stand it, Jesus died for it, and we can’t just tolerate it and pretend it doesn’t matter.  Paul is writing here about elders and how to deal with them should they fall into sin, but the reality is that each of us has a responsibility to protect God’s truth and not let it be watered down by ignoring sinful behavior.  Rebuke is a word and action no one likes to be part of – seems too harsh – might hurt someone’s feelings – just isn’t how we should act today.  Not true according to scripture.  Where there is sin – there must be rebuke leading to confession and repentance.  We need to speak strongly for truth and not tolerate sin.  It is impossible to stay free from the impact of sin around us if we let it go unchecked.  It will gradually penetrate everything in its wake.  Don’t hide your head and let it ride.  Stand firm on God’s truth!

1 Timothy 4

 1 Timothy 4 warns us that “some will depart from the faith….devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons….insincerity of liars….forbid marriage….require abstinence from foods”.  That is a sad truth.  The question we need to ask is ‘will it be me – will I be one of the ones who jumps ship and leaves my faith’?  Someone will – scripture is clear about that – and before we say it won’t  be me remember what happened to Peter as he denied Jesus three times the night before He was crucified.  We will be tempted and led astray by some teaching lies.  The enemy will tempt us to leave what we have believed and walk away.  Are you ready for that?  Are you completely in line with God’s truth? 

So what can we do to get ready?  “Train yourself for godliness”.  We have to realize that being spiritually fit takes work – we have to train for it.  If we want to be godly we have to focus on building ourselves up – working on the spiritual disciplines daily.  “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”.  Many of us are exercising daily – we are on a real regimen to build up our physical bodies and create physical health.  We spend tens of thousands of dollars and hundred of hours to do so.  How much are you investing in your spiritual health?  How many dollars and hours are you investing?  I bet not nearly as much.  What if you truly trained to grow spiritually like you do in other areas?  Why?  Because spiritual training has value today and for eternity.  You can’t say that about our physical body.  We need to get with the program!

Paul goes on to remind us that “our hope is set on the living God” and there are some things we need to be doing to truly succeed as Christ Followers in this world.  “Command and teach these things….set the believers an example in speech….in conduct….in love….in faith….in purity…. devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture….to exhortation….to teaching….Do not neglect the gift you have….Practice these things….devote yourself to them….Keep a close watch on yourself….Persist in this”.  Strong words from Paul.  We have to not only build spiritual discipline ourselves – to train and learn and keep working at it in our own lives – but we have to train others – set examples – push people and help them walk in faith as well.  We have a job to do as Christ Followers – we are to be devoted to the faith and those in our patch.  We have to become spiritually strong and then lead those around us to do the same.  Who are you exhorting to become strong in their faith?  Who are you leading and modeling strong spiritual disciplines for?  It is important and we need to do it well!

1 Timothy 3

 1 Timothy 3 talks about two leadership roles in the church – overseers (elders) and deacons.  Paul writes to Timothy in very clear terms about the kind of people that should fill these two roles.  They are different in responsibility – as overseers are focused on being spiritual leaders providing the direction and oversight of the body, while deacons are focused on serving and getting the work of the body done.  Both are vital roles and needed to have an effective church body.

So here is what Paul lists as the requirements “the office of overseer”:

–       “above reproach

–       husband of one wife

–       sober-minded

–       self-controlled

–       respectable

–       hospitable

–       able to teach

–       not a drunkard

–       not violent but gentle

–       not quarrelsome

–       not a lover of money

–       manage his own household well

–       keeping his children submissive

–       not be a recent convert

–       well thought of by outsiders

That limits the options doesn’t it.  Quite a list of traits that Paul puts down as necessary.  But these folks are the guiding leaders in a church so their role is critical.  It probably is not taken as seriously by many churches today as Paul intends. 

He goes on to give us a similar list for the role of deacon.  Check this out:

–       “dignified

–       not double-tongued

–       not addicted to much wine

–       not greedy for dishonest gain

–       clear conscience

–       tested first

–       blameless

–       husband of one wife

–       managing their children and their own households well

Not quite as long a list, but still not a simple list to live by.  Most areas are similar to the list for overseers, just a few less on the list for deacons.  But in both cases how we live at home is part of the qualification.  One wife (that is a handful by itself isn’t it) and submissive or well managed kids are quite a task list in itself.

It is interesting that Paul tells us that “their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things”.  So not only is the character of the husband critical in these roles, but also that of their family, especially their wives.  So why does Paul write about this as it applies to so few?  That is what I hear often when I teach this passage.  The reality is that God desires all of us as Christ Followers to live by these standards so we are ready and quailified to serve when He calls us to do so.  You can’t just fix this list once you decide it is time to do your part in serving the church.  These are life long qualities – things we have to work at for a long period of time.  So the key is to begin immediately to achieve this kind of lifestyle.   I can hear some of you saying that you’ll start by working on your wife.  Wrong answer – you start by looking in the mirror and seeing how you measure up to God’s desired lifestyle.  If you are working to live this way – you are on God’s path to success!

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