"Messages from a Minister"
Throughout the years, I have had a number of people who have taken time to teach, mentor, and encourage me. I am grateful for each and every one, and appreciate the time and effort they put forth in helping me along the way. Perhaps you have some mentors and teachers who mean a great deal to you as well. In the study before us today on 1st Timothy, we find a man named Paul giving some wise counsel and direction to a young minister named Timothy. Serving in the city of Ephesus, Timothy has some important responsibilities and he needs some insight from his mentor. Paul shares things that will empower him to be an effective leader of God's people as well as being an example for others to follow. The words of wisdom from this seasoned minister deserve our attention also. His practical and timely advice for life within the church and among others still applies today. As we consider the importance of living a godly life, whether as a leader or a follower, the letter of 1st Timothy is one of the best resources found within the pages of God's Word. If you are a new believer looking for some insight on how to live a Christian life, this letter has some things to consider. Or, if you are seeking some ideas on how you can teach and influence others, these words from Paul offer something of great value. I hope you'll want to hear from him about the many good things all of us can incorporate into our lives as teachers, followers and believers. Spend a few minutes with us now as we study together.
In almost every aspect of life, there are those whom we consider to be our leaders. It might be a teacher who taught us while we were going through school. It might be a mentor who guided us and helped us to become a successful business person. Perhaps our parents demonstrated a good way to live. No doubt, we are thankful for those good examples. We are thankful for the influence they have left upon our lives. The need to develop and to identify good leaders in the church exists as well. Oh, followers of Jesus need someone who will be a good role model and who will provide good leadership. Perhaps the best place to find that here in the Bible is in the New Testament letter called 1st Timothy. After some 15 years of working with a young man, named Timothy, the apostle Paul leaves him in the city of Ephesus. Timothy was the son of a Jewish woman and a Greek father. He became, then, a Christian at a very young age, and he was carefully trained and taught the ways of the Lord by his mother and grandmother, and also by the apostle Paul. Timothy traveled with Paul on his missionary trips and he learned firsthand what it meant to be a church minister and also to be a good Christian leader. While writing from a prison cell somewhere around the year A.D. 64, Paul shares some insights that will help Timothy in his new role as the church minister, there in Ephesus. And no doubt, there were a number of things that Paul wanted Timothy to do, a number of things that needed Timothy's attention. Yes, this experienced Christian leader mentored the young man who would now teach, and train, and lead others. He was to provide that good leadership and to correct false teaching; then, he was to identify those leaders who could come alongside him and help lead the Christians there in the church in Ephesus. In fact, there is more teaching about the role of a church minister and a Christian leader in the letter of 1st Timothy than any other book or letter in the Bible. In this very personal letter, Paul's love and support for Timothy is evident. Even though Timothy is perhaps no more than 30 years of age, Paul believes that he can do the job. He believes that he can carry on his duties and be the kind of leader the Christians in Ephesus so desperately need. He knew that he would be that right model and that right example for others to follow, and he encourages Timothy to that end. Notice these words in the 4th chapter which begin in verse 11. "Command and teach these things. Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you." Paul identifies several things that will help Timothy. Don't let people look down on you. Don't let people criticize you because you are young, but rather, you have an opportunity to provide a good example for them to follow in your speech, in your purity, and in every aspect of your life. And when they see that kind of example, then they will listen to your teaching and to your preaching, and they will pay attention to the times when you read the Scripture. Just think back on the time when the elders laid their hands upon you and commissioned you for this task. Yes, Paul encourages and inspires Timothy to fulfill the role as that church minister. Paul knew he could do the job. He knew that he could be that good example and set in order some things that needed to be corrected and to identify those leaders. Paul trusts him to carry on the work in Ephesus, and Ephesus was a challenging place. It had many temples representing the worship of many different gods. People from everywhere visited this seaport town. Very easily, they could come into a place of worship or one of the temples and begin to teach most anything they wanted to teach, and that was a big problem. They were threatening the stability and the integrity of the Christians and the church as a whole. In the words of Paul in chapter 1 and verse 7, they did not even know what they were talking about. Well, Paul gives some warnings about what they would teach and what they would do, and these things helped Timothy to identify the false teachers and try to correct anything they might say. Listen to Paul's words over in the 6th chapter, beginning with verse 3. "If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain." In that rather long sentence, Paul identifies some of the things these false teachers will do and say. He wants Timothy to be aware of their ultimate motive, and that is to bring financial gain, that these people will come in and say all kinds of things that will stir up controversy and evil talk, and there will be quarrels and arguments all for the purpose of these false teachers to become rich. Paul simply says be aware of what is happening and stand firm on the truth of God's Word. Yes, in the course of all of the false teaching, and all of the controversies and all of the problems, the solution would be to remember what he had been taught, remember the salvation and mercy he had received from God, himself. That's the way Paul begins this letter to Timothy in the 1st chapter, as we notice verses 12 and following. "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that He considered me faithful, appointing me to His service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus." As Paul writes those words, he remembers the time when God blessed him and gave him the opportunity to change his life. Paul mentions there that he was a violent man. He goes on to write that he was the worst of all sinners. And yet in spite of that, God poured out His mercy and salvation upon him. And he writes these things so that perhaps Timothy can remember when he too received the salvation of God. Paul was no doubt thinking also about the time that's recorded in the Book of Acts, in chapter 9, when he was on the road to Damascus to persecute and perhaps even put to death those who believed in Jesus. The great light of God shined down upon him, and he began a transition process from that point on. He went in to the city of Damascus. Apollos taught him more about the Lord and then baptized him into Jesus Christ. Yes, Paul no doubt thinks about that and he calls upon Timothy to reflect upon the truth of God's Word, to which he responded. He wants Timothy to remain faithful and true to that so that nobody would be able to question him or recognize him as a false teacher, as they might do with others. Paul, also in this letter, points out the importance for Timothy to live in faithfulness and obedience to God. He highlights several things that will help him do that. He highlights several things that will help him be a good role model and example for others to follow. He is to be a man of God who is focused on godly living. Listen to these words in chapter 4 verses 7 and 8. "Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales, rather, train yourself to be godly, for physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." To become a godly person does not come easily or naturally. It's very tempting to just fall in line with all of the myths and ideas that are being taught. Paul says train yourself. Yes, it's fine to train yourself physically to take care of your body. That's important, and it is of some value. What is even more important is to train yourself to live in a godly way that brings glory and honor to the Lord. Paul encourages Timothy with more words about godly living in chapter 6 beginning with verse 11. "But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses." Paul already identifies Timothy as a man of God; and yet, you need to keep on fighting to be that man of God to live a godly life. He identifies six things to which Timothy is to focus and pay attention to, things like faith, and love, and endurance, and gentleness. Yes, Paul wants Timothy to be that godly influence to the people in the city of Ephesus. He also identifies other things in this letter, which need Timothy's attention, and that is the matter of prayer, striving for unity and living a disciplined life. And all of those things combined are important if Timothy wants to be a good minister of the gospel message and provide good leadership for the Christians in Ephesus. And still today, everyone who seeks to follow the Lord will incorporate these same things into his or her life. These qualities will be found in those who want to follow the Lord. These qualities will set an example for others to follow, and these qualities will also lead one to being a good Christian leader. Oh, scattered throughout this letter we find other important statements from Paul regarding church matters. He offers instruction about church worship in chapter 2. He gives counsel to both the younger and the older members in chapter 5. He identifies how widows are to be cared for and recognized in that same chapter. He even encourages those who are slaves to show proper respect to their masters in chapter 6. One of Paul's most important messages is about the issue of money. He writes that proper Christian living is being content with God's blessings, to not worry about finances and not worry about money, but rather, to trust God to provide exactly what is needed. Christians are also to avoid the pursuit of money. They are to stay away from the pursuit of financial gain, because it really is so uncertain. He addresses the issue of money in two passages in the 6th chapter. Let's notice first of all the reading which begins in verse 6. "Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it, but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap, and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." Paul simply warns Timothy, "Don't fall in love with money. Don't pursue that. Don't make that the ultimate purpose and goal for your life, but rather, pursue godliness with contentment." He goes on to make the point that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. No, money is not evil in and of itself; rather, the pursuit of it oftentimes will lead people into an evil path or an evil lifestyle. Paul is not finished with that matter of money. Notice these words in chapter 6 beginning with verse 17. "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share. In this same way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." Evidently, there were some wealthy Christians there in Ephesus, and Paul tells Timothy to command them to use their wealth wisely, to be good stewards of it, to not keep that money for themselves, but rather, to be generous, to help those who are in need and to share what they have with those who do not have so much. Yes, throughout this letter, Paul offers many practical things that will help Timothy in his role as a church minister, and also as a good Christian leader. Chapter 3, however, seems to be the focus of Paul's message. Here he lists several qualities of those who can be identified as Christian leaders, who can serve the church. These people will excel in these areas, and thus, others will recognize them as good leaders. He begins his list in chapter 3 verse 2 by stating that a man will be above reproach. Very simply, that means a man will have good integrity, and no one will question his quality of life. Another word Paul uses is the word 'blameless'. Nobody will be able to point to him and accuse him, or blame him, for anything wrong in his life. And based upon a man living a blameless life, above reproach with integrity, he then lists a number of different items. I would encourage us to study very carefully this list if we are seeking to be a leader within the church, or if we are already a recognized Christian leader, to continually evaluate our own life and measure it according to the teaching and to the list that Paul has for us here. Let's notice about 12 qualities or characteristics of good Christian leaders. A man will be the husband of one wife or devoted to one woman only. He will be temperate and self-controlled. He will be respectable and hospitable. That man is able to teach and is not given to drunkenness. That man is not violent, but rather, gentle. He is not quarrelsome, nor is he a lover of money. He will manage his own family well. His children will obey him. He will also be a mature and not a new believer and have a good reputation among others. When I read that list, I realize Paul is more interested in a leader's character than he is in a leader's activity. A good leader will be a role model for others to follow, in every aspect of his life. Yes, it is the quality of one's life that will make that man fit for a leadership role within the church. And so we see very simply, Paul teaches there are many more things for a Christian leader to consider than simply how to arrange a church worship service; and, those matters revolve around a leader's life. The letter of 1st Timothy is filled with all kinds of instruction about how to be an effective church minister and a good Christian leader; and yet, it seems many of these qualities still apply to everyone who seeks to follow the Lord today. Strong Christian leadership was needed for a healthy church in Ephesus. Strong Christian leadership is still needed in the church today, and these words from the apostle Paul offer a clear model for us to consider. These disciplines and these practices enable one to walk closer with God. They guide us in becoming the leaders that others will want to follow. Yes, Paul's teaching about godly living and good leadership are now left for us to put into practice. Some of the world's best leaders do the things we read here in 1st Timothy. Many of the churches' best leaders do them as well. Everyone who seeks to have a closer walk with the Lord will consider how to incorporate them into his or her life. The letter of 1st Timothy, written by Paul to his young minister friend, is perhaps one of Paul's most practical letters. It offers some very clear teaching and instruction about godly living. It offers very clear direction in regards to leadership and the use of money and how to do various things in order to become a godly man or woman in the sight of the Lord. In fact, that is what all of us are called upon to do, to allow the salvation we have received from God, to allow the mercy and grace He has extended to us, to make a difference in the way we live. I would encourage us that as we continue to read and study this practical letter from Paul that we incorporate those things into our life, that we continue to think about what it means to live a godly life, what it means to provide good Christian leadership, and also what it means to be a good example for others to follow. Yes, I would encourage and pray for you today that as you read and apply Paul's letter of 1st Timothy to make it very practical in your own life.
Toward the end of the apostle Paul's life, he writes an important letter to his dear friend and fellow minister, Timothy. He offers some wise counsel, which will greatly assist him in being an effective minister and a good example to others. These things will guide him in his walk with the Lord and will empower him to be a good leader. Among the necessary qualities are such things as prayer and holiness, discipline, and faithfulness. This letter to Timothy applies to us today. It teaches us to live exemplary lives among those we work with and serve, both in the church and in society. When that happens, others will want to follow our lead and become strong Christians and leaders as well.
Thank you for spending a few minutes with us as we studied from the letter called 1st Timothy. Hopefully Paul's message gave us some things to consider regarding our role as Christians. Whether we are a new believer or a teacher of others, Paul offers some very practical counsel. This message is available on our website if you would like to hear or view it again. Feel free to download it at your convenience. There are other things on the "Key to the Kingdom" website that might be of interest as well. I encourage you to take a look at that which might be beneficial. Previous messages, a Bible study, and short video clips on practical Christian living are all available at no cost and without any obligation. The same free Bible study can also be sent to you by mail. To request it, please call the number on the screen, leave your name and address, and we'll be happy to send it to you in a few days. It is a self-guided study consisting of six lessons. It will hopefully assist you in your own personal Bible study, and in knowing more about God and His free gift of salvation. "Key to the Kingdom" has a free channel on RokuŽ Television, and we also offer a free app, which you can download onto your smartphone. These are just two more ways you can have access to this ministry and to the variety of things we freely offer. I do hope you will take advantage of them and that they will bless you spiritually. Thank you for joining us for today's study on 1st Timothy. I invite you to join us again at this same time next week as we continue to study the Bible on "Key to the Kingdom."