1 Timothy 6:11-21

Read 1 Timothy 6:11-21

Today we have Paul’s final instructions to Timothy, but let’s read them as if they are to us today.  What do we see?  We see action.  As followers of Christ we need to:

  • RUN from evil
  • FIGHT the good fight
  • HOLD tightly to eternity
  • OBEY Jesus’ commands

We will encounter evil, you can count on that.  We will need to be wise to recognize it for what it is and then flee from it.  If we try to “fix” it, we run the chance of being caught in its snare.  When we are questioned about our faith, maybe even put to the test and ridiculed, what are we to do? Paul tells us to fight the good fight and stand up for our faith.  We belong to a God who loves us beyond all comprehension, how can we turn from that? Where else can we find total acceptance and love, forgiveness and reconciliation.

We know the answer to “Do you know where you’re going when you die?” It is our destiny to spend eternity with our Lord.  There is a great hope that wells within us at the thought of seeing Jesus face to face.  Hold on to that image when faced with a struggle or persecution.  Jesus has gone before us, suffered and died so that we might have life in him.  He is the only one we can trust for he is truth.  The only way to the father is through him.  We should yearn to obey him at all costs.

Well, you might be thinking, this all sounds good, but is it really that easy? How do I succeed in this life?  We are not called to be rich, but to share the riches we do have with others.  This is true success.  Look at the need around you.  If at first you cannot see it, look harder.  There are needs so great, and we can be used by God as his hands and feet.  What an honor to be used in this way!  Take a moment now and ask God to give you the eyes to see the need he’d like you to fill today.

Let’s pray.  Father we come to you eager to obey and follow you.  We a sk that you fill us with your compassion so we are ready to do your work in this world, to share what you have so generously given us, to make a difference to those around us.  Thank you for your provision.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

1 Timothy 6:1-10

Read 1 Timothy 6:1-10

I’m not sure what version of the Bible you read from, and if you follow the link above it takes you to New Living Translation, one of my favorites.  In fact, it’s the version in my study Bible.  So, today, as I was reading from my Bible, I noticed a very distinct difference in how this passage begins.  In my Bible it says, “Christians who are slaves…” where in the NLT version on Biblegateway.com (source of the link above) it says “All slaves”. Interesting.  I won’t spend a lot of time on this, but from a context perspective, it is my understanding that in the times Paul is writing, there was a huge gap between slaves and their masters.  However, if a slave and master were both Christians, they became spiritual equals, or as we might say, brothers and sisters in Christ.  To me, it is then that the rest of the verse makes sense.

As the reading continues,  Paul is masterful in assuring us that what he has prescribed for godly living is sound and from the teachings of Jesus–what greater authority can there be!  We all know that person, however, who likes to stir the pot or question these truths.  There is so much behavior in our culture today, and I’m sure in Paul’s time, that is counter to this and many feel constrained by a life devoted to Christ.

Read v. 6, “Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.”  Ponder this for a moment until you feel like the richest person on the planet.  You may need to put aside your current financial needs for just a moment lest they interfere with your feeling the enormous blessing you  have as a follower of Jesus.

I’m struck again by the truth of  verse 9.   While I am not striving to be “rich”, I am hopeful that my current endeavors allow me the freedom for travel, and helping to build an orphanage in Haiti.  I am asking God for provision for those dreams.  What are you striving for in your life?

Let’s pray.  Lord help me to stay focused on you and you alone.   Don’t let the pressures of the world creep in and entice me to believe in something false.  Help me discern and be faithful.  As I look around at our world today, I am saddened by the hate, the anger, the doubt.  I trust you have all this worked out, and I pray wisdom for leaders and not arrogance.  I pray for love and not hate for all people.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

1 Timothy 5:17-25

Read Timothy 5:17-25

There are some challenging things in this passage, aren’t there?  Again, Paul is helping Timothy with issues that are either happening in the young congregation, are bound to happen.  You can probably relate to some of these in your own experience, I know I can.

For instance, complaints.  It’s a sad truth that church people complain.  We all have our idea of what it means to be a Christian, what a church service should look like, what a Bible passage says.  When someone’s view differs with ours, there is a rub.  We are not all created alike, and this is a good thing because sharing our unique opinions can be helpful to others, can help mold a ministry, and in turn we grow ourselves.  It is when we take a negative spin and complain.

Can you remember a time when you had a favorite “something”?  Perhaps a favorite outfit, a favorite food, or even a favorite friend.  Did you treat that favorite differently from all the rest?  Could you maybe say the others took a backseat to your favorite and were not included as often?  I think taking that simple example and applying it to congregational leadership will speak volumes – Paul is warning us do not forget anybody!  Everyone is important.  God has not favorites and we should not either.

I haven’t done this before, but I want to open this up to discussion.  What do you think about this passage?  Pray for some wisdom, and then in the comments below share your thoughts on this passage.

Let’s pray:  I pray for church leaders everywhere that you will give them wisdom and courage amidst their struggle to lead.  Help them take refuge in you knowing that you are the one in control, you are the one to whom we put our trust.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

1 Timothy 5:1-16

Read 1 Timothy 5:1-16

We don’t want anyone to be left behind! All must know the saving power of Jesus Christ.  Today’s reading is really focused on widows, both old and young, again with instruction on how best to handle them from a church context.  But the passage also stresses how we are to relate to each other, to our families, etc.

What strikes me today are two things.  First, our society today seems to be spreading apart and families are no longer staying within the same community as was the pattern for decades.  There are still places where this isn’t necessarily the case, but our children are now following the jobs, which often take them across the country.  This passage though is a reminder to us that family is important, and we are called to care for family, lest we “deny our own faith.”  One of the things I really appreciate about the Mexican culture we have immersed ourselves in is that families are important.  There is very little moving away, unless it be by the ones with great ambition that have left to make a life in the United States.  Event those children come back often and partake in family celebrations as if they had never left.  Family taking care of family.  We are seeing it firsthand like never before since moving to Mexico.

As for widows, the passage speaks of those old and alone, and also those still young with passion still alive and friends and relatives around to support.  It is those who are alone that we as a church are to care for.  Again, in the area we have retired, I am surrounded by many older expat widows who have lost their husbands.  They are a treasure for they have so many wonderful stories to share.  It would be easy to not include them in a couple get-to-gether, but what joy and insight they share, and by involving them they are able to shine and feel loved.

So what is this passage saying to you today?  Is your family close or spread apart?  If close, how do you stay close and connected.  If apart, what do you do to stay connected?  Sometimes when close it’s easy to take that for granted, and when far, we can be more motivated to stay in touch.  How about in your church?  Where to you see the need?

Let’s pray.  Lord give me eyes to see those around me that are alone, widow or otherwise.  Give me the love and compassion to reach out and make a difference for them, sharing your love and truth to keep them connected to you.  Watch over my family as they are far from me,  scattered here and there.   Draw them closer to you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

1 Timothy 4:6-16

Read 1 Timothy 4:6-16

Paul’s instruction continues.  Don’t you love when you are given parameters and expectations for a task?  Then you have something to strive for, to succeed at, and the goal is easily set before you.  Our task, to be effective followers of Jesus.  These verses in 1 Timothy have given us a glimpse of what that should look like.  All point back to being a servant, doing all we can to be more like Jesus and helping others around us to do the same.

Paul is encouraging young Timothy here (and us) to be faithful, to be a good example, and to teach others to act likewise.  There are some nuggets of truth here that I think would help in all relationships, both in and out of a church setting:

  • Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas
  • Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better
  • Focus on reading the Scriptures
  • Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received
  • Stay true to what is right

Those are some challenging assignments, but Paul is setting out the expectation for Timothy to help him succeed.   Look at each of the points above.  Take a moment to reflect on each one separately, taking time to really think through how you can do a better job of this.  Can you think of times, for example, when arguments got out of hand that were about something frivolous in the big picture?  Or maybe you spend too much time at the gym, which is good, but not enough time in the Scriptures? Take time to thank God for your gifting, and ask, “am I using what God gave me to help others and advance the kingdom of God?”

I’m feeling encouraged and renewed by the expectations Paul has set forth here.  I certainly want to spend eternity with Jesus, and I want my loved ones to be there with me.

Let’s pray.  Lord, pour out your grace on me today, as I feel like I am struggling to be the best I can be for you.  Forgive me when the busyness of life invades my time with you.  Help my life as a Christian be a good example for those around me, that they may see you in me.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.