Questions: What does it mean to leave the faith? How can we protect it? Why need we be thankful? What should we remind others about? What must we remember ourselves? How can we be good ministers? How important is godliness?
“Read More” to pursue answers from First Timothy.
Lord, make me a Fountain of your Love.
Draw me into your Presence
And fill me with your Holy Spirit
That I would know you as my Father
And manifest the image of Christ
In this world, and the world to come. Amen.
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith
This chapter starts on a bit of a downer, with roster of bad behavior:
- giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
- Speaking lies in hypocrisy;
- having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
- Forbidding to marry,
- [and commanding] to abstain from meats,
That last seems a bit ironic (given Jewish dietary laws), so Paul elaborates:
which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God [is] good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
From the context, I presume he is referring to “meat sacrificed to idols” — which may well have been most meat, since there were customs analogous to kosher for the slaughter of animals in other cultures. Paul’s point appears to be that if we truly give thanks to God for something, it doesn’t matter who else thanked whom for it.
I presume “these things” refers to the fact that everything is created “to be received with thanksgiving”, though it might go further back in the chapter. “These things” also seem to be contrasted with the “fables” (perhaps because that is what the brethren remember instead!):
Becoming godly is clearly hard work — but it is worth it:
For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
This [is] a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
And Paul walks what he talks:
For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
That is, all this hard work is not out of faith in our own efforts, to earn our salvation, but a demonstration (manifestation?) of our faith in God, and how Jesus has saved us.
Which is perhaps why it is important for Timothy to “talk what he walks”:
These things command and teach.
Even if he’s in a bit over his head:
Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
I like how he exhorts Timothy to validate his ministry by his example, not by appealing to any particular credentials.
Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
That seems like pretty basic advice. His next comment is rather more surprising:
Huh. I’m not sure what gift he’s referring to, but it certainly sounds like something more “supernatural” than reading the bible and teaching doctrine. It also sounds like he’s concerned that Timothy might (or had) neglected it, either out of insecurity or distractions. The solution seems to be:
In this case, I tend to think “these things” means everything he’s talked about to date: theology, criteria, commands, etc. The more significant point is that this is something Timothy needs to meditate upon with his whole heart; and that Paul is convinced that such meditation will produce publicly-visible fruit — if he continues:
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
This really seems to be central to Paul’s heart. Much like his previous requirement for deacons, Paul wants Timothy to focus on dwelling in the mystery of God’s goodness, and pursuing godly character, rather than perfecting any particular skill or argument. Faith and doctrine are important — even essential! — but only of use if we put them into practice.
God, I ask for your grace and mercy to teach me to rest, and to help me meditate on your truth. Show me your truth, and bring me to a place where I can submit to it. I ask all this in Jesus name, Amen.