A Disciples Speaks the Truth

September 22, 2020

16 Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.

1 Timothy 4:16

Written by Susan Saban from the Brentwood Campus

We have all had situations where we deviated from what we were supposed to do. Perhaps it was not studying for an upcoming test and then receiving a less than perfect grade. Perhaps it was not following directions on an important class or work assignment and then being humiliated because the result didn’t fit the assignment. Or imagine hosting a dinner party for your boss. Everything looks perfect, but the guests pucker their faces when they taste the food. A simple recipe substitution went terribly wrong, and the dinner has been ruined. All of these situations would have gone better if the directions had been followed to the ‘T’. Directions, lessons and recipes exist to impart wisdom and to lead people to a desired outcome.

In the verse for today, the Apostle Paul gives some important directions to follow that can produce the most blessed outcome anyone could hope for: the salvation of others. Paul exhorts Timothy to pay attention to his life and teaching, because they play into the salvation of himself and others.

At first glance this may look like works-righteousness, focusing on what we do as the cause of our salvation and the salvation of others. However, we know from other verses in the New Testament that we are saved by grace through faith, that it is not from ourselves, but is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-10). Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of God. Clearly it is not our character or anything we do that saves us.

So why is Paul concerned about Timothy’s character and convictions, and by implication ours as well? In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul says if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. As a new creation, Jesus implores us to let our light shine before others, so that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16). These good works are an outward display of faith and the resulting character that develops. As relationships with others grow based on character, unbelieving friends may ask for the reason for the hope we have. The Apostle Peter encourages us to always be ready to give a defense for our hope (1 Peter 3:15). Therefore, the character of believers is a steppingstone or gateway to gospel conversations with unbelievers.

Paul also implores Timothy to pay attention to what he is teaching others. In conversations with unbelievers, we must remember what we have learned and not depart from it. The writer of the book of Hebrews says in chapter 4 verse 12, “The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” The Law has the power to convict hearts, and the gospel has the power to save sinners. In the process of studying and becoming disciples ourselves, we should store up God’s Word in our hearts (Psalm 119:11). When we do, we will be ready for the conversations the Holy Spirit ordains.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Do you regularly study God’s Word?
  2. Do you regularly commit scripture to memory? Are you storing it up in your heart?
  3. Do you have a small group or a friend to help keep you accountable to study God’s Word and grow in your faith?
  4. Do you have a Christian mentor or friend whose advice you take to heart in areas where you can grow in submission to Christ’s Lordship in your life?

Missions Prayer
Pray for Miette, one of our church family’s global workers. She uses her administrative gifts to further gospel sharing efforts in Germany. Pray for outreach to university students at Goethe University. Find out more about Miette and about lostness in Europe here.

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