1 Timothy 4:11-16
11 These things command and teach.
12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.
15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.
16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
I'm feeling a bit discouraged today. Let me be clear about something: I could not write these messages by myself every morning, they are the product of the Holy Spirit working through me. This is not boasting, just a simple acknowledgment of my inability to do these things on my own. I am no scholar, not even a preacher as yet, but God has chosen to open His Word to me in ways that He has commanded I share with others. Of what use is understanding Scripture if we do not share it? Of what use is the Bible itself if one does not speak the Word to one's neighbor, friend, enemy, or any other person? We are told by Jesus Christ Himself to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19) and to preach the gospel to all creatures (Mark 16:15). How can we be silent and accomplish these commandments from our Lord and Savior?
There are times when I feel like Jeremiah.
Then I said, "I will not make mention of Him,
Nor speak anymore in His name."
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire
Shut up in my bones;
I was weary of holding it back,
And I could not.
At times I am fit to burst with God's Word. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever finally understood some passage of Scripture and just HAD to tell someone about it? Paul tells us that our faith comes from hearing the Word of God, that we NEED preachers to share that Word with us. (Romans 10:14-17) Who are those preachers and teachers? Are they just those men and women who stand in pulpits on Sunday? NO! The command to share the gospel was for all of us, to do as we can and when we can. We are not to leave the Bible sitting on a shelf, waiting for some end-times prophet to open it and suddenly share its wonders. On the contrary, like the apostle Philip, we are to run alongside the chariot of those who seek God and open their eyes to the Scriptures, to teach and preach the gospel of peace with God. (Acts 8:26-39)
In today's verses, Paul is exhorting his protegé Timothy to be strong and to maintain his teaching. Paul is telling Timothy--and you and me--not to be discouraged, not to let others tell us we don't know what we are talking about. We are to maintain our integrity in all things, setting an example so that people can truly see that we live what we speak. All believers have all been given gifts of the Spirit to varying degrees (1 Corinthians 12, esp. v.11), and we are to exercise those gifts in pursuit of ministry that builds up the body of Christ. Yes, some are given gifts that enable them to be better at preaching and teaching the Word of God, while others have been called to ministries that work within the church (1 Corinthians 12:28, Ephesians 4:11ff), but ALL of us are called to contribute to the whole. We are called to build up, to edify, to exhort, to rebuke, to correct, and most especially to be an example to believers and unbelievers alike.
The Bible is not a "sealed book," as some would maintain. Yes, we are not to add to nor take from the canon (lit. "measuring rod") of Scripture, but we ARE to OPEN the Bible and teach what it contains. If we do not open the Bible, then how can anyone know its riches? How can they see the glory of God, the love and peace He wishes to share? How can people understand the grace of our living God? The Bible is the primary source of our knowledge about God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, and the Holy Spirit. How then can we be silent?
"These things command and teach," writes Paul, knowing that young Timothy may wonder if he's making any progress at all. But, you see, it is not up to US to make that progress. It is God's Word itself that will enter into the hearts of men and accomplish God's purposes. (Isaiah 55:11) Our job is to make sure everyone gets a chance to hear the gospel and see it in our lives. If we do NOT do that, then we are defying the very Scripture we claim as our own. Only in declaring the Word, only in living lives of integrity guided by the Word, can we ever hope to save both ourselves and those who hear us.
I am glad that God allows me to share these things every day. It is both humbling and frightening to realize that I must speak what He opens to me. I am not perfect, and my life is not the best example of the integrity He seeks in us, but I am working on it, and I do seek His way and His Word. My sincere prayer is that none of us are held back by uncertainty or doubt, that we don't allow Satan or men to tell us we are not able to share the gospel. We ARE able to share it! Find the gifts that God has given you and do not neglect them. Do not let the pressures of everyday life get in the way of sharing the gospel however you are given. Be an example to all in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity. And no matter what, "These things command and teach."
Holy Father God, great is Your wisdom and Your holy Bible. Thank You, Father, for sharing Your Word with us, for giving us Your written voice to hear when we seek You. Let Your Word be the still, small voice that breaks through the thunder of our lives. Let Your Word, O Lord, guide us, exhort us, teach us, and enrich us. Let us give ourselves entirely to Your Word so that our progress may be evident to all. Amen.