Read 1 Timothy 4
1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
6 If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.
11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
If you have ever needed a big dose of encouragement, look no further than this chapter, which is a letter of instruction to Timothy as he leads the church in Ephesus. Paul had been so impressed with this new Christian that Timothy became one of his closest disciples, and Paul wrote in Philippians that there was no one else like him. But Paul also knew that Timothy was younger in age and spiritual maturity and Timothy likely felt like he was up against more than he could handle in the hostile environment of the Ephesian church. He was acting with a spirit of timidity, and Paul knew he needed to be reminded of the power given to him through the Holy Spirit (see 2 Timothy 1).
Timothy’s fears and doubts are understandable. He was facing older Ephesians who were more experienced in their theology, so not only was he facing the challenges of younger age and immaturity, he was also far less experienced in defending this new faith that he had accepted. The church was off track in both morality and theology, and Paul had dropped Timothy in the middle of it, putting him in charge and tasking him with getting everything on track. No easy task for sure!
When God asks us to do something that seems insurmountable, whether physically or mentally or spiritually, it is good to remember what Paul tells Timothy: It doesn’t matter your age or your experience. It doesn’t matter if you feel inadequate or unprepared. If God is asking you to do it, devote yourself to the task before you and use the gifts He has given you. Be diligent. Give yourself wholly to that task. Keep a firm grasp on your character and your integrity, and don’t get distracted.
Whatever it is that God is asking us to do today, our fears and doubts are smaller than His assurances and power. He has not given us a spirit of timidity. Romans 8:11 tells us that God has given us His Spirit, the very same Spirit and power that raised Jesus from the dead, to dwell within us. If we truly believe that, then why would we fear? Let’s bravely get to the task set before us today!
- What might God be asking you to do that seems overwhelming?
- Why do you think it seems overwhelming if you know God is calling you to it?
- Spend time praying about this and writing down how to accomplish what God is calling you to do. What would it practically look like to diligently devote yourself to that task using the gifts He has given you?
Did You Know?
Timothy would have likely been in his 30s when he received this letter from Paul, but the principle of 1 Timothy 4:12 is a helpful reminder for all believers. We should always be looking at the generation coming up behind us and seeking to learn from them as they follow Christ as well, not dismissing them because of their age or experience (or lack thereof).
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