One generation can think so differently from the next. As the years pass, the desire to converse and learn from my own parents has been on the increase as I come to recognize there is a wisdom waiting to be gleaned.
Combine wisdom with godliness and what is truly obtained is a precious treasure.
Paul, in exhorting Timothy on the manner in which to conduct himself, passes along advice to his colleague. Often when reading in 1 Timothy, we focus on the “let no one look down on you” part (1 Timothy 4:12) because Timothy was younger.
Yet the exhortation is for all of us, no matter our age, and offers wisdom by which we all can live. We are to “put our hope in the living God” (verse 10), striving to live and work for Him, so that our lives display Christ and godliness.
So how should we then live? Paul offers us his same advice:
- Do not neglect our gifts. “Do not neglect the gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you” (1 Timothy 4:14). Each one of us has a spiritual gift, vital to our lives and to others. We are not to be careless with what has been deposited into us, but rather continue to grow and develop. We are to cultivate the gift and use it bring God glory.
- Throw ourselves into the Word. “Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress” (verse 15). We are to immerse ourselves daily, so that our progress is obvious to all. Then instead of being seen as immature, it will be evident that we are growing into all we are to be in God.
- Keep a close watch on how we live. “Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching” (verse 16). Our daily life and behavior is a direct reflection on how we think and our beliefs. They cannot be separated. “Both holy living and sound teaching are the inevitable fruits of saving faith” (from The New American Commentary, Vol. 34, page 141).
- Stay true to our salvation. “Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you” (verse 16). We must pay attention not only to our outward behavior, but to our thoughts and our feelings, as these can also lead us astray. We must keep a diligent eye on ourselves, growing in spiritual discernment so that we are keen to false doctrines.
Paul began his advice using the powerful analogy of athletic training:
“Train yourself to be godly. Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7b-8, NLT)
It will take stamina – strength to endure over the long run – to live a godly life and not let false teaching infiltrate our lives. Just as a runner must exert every ounce of the energy in his reserves to cross the finish, so are we to live in this same way. Much the way an athlete trains for a competition, we must live with determined purpose and effort.
Afterall, the starting line is not the finish line.
May we live our days well.