It struck me as I was re-reading 1 Timothy just how personal this letter is. Most of Paul’s letters are written to a specific congregation or a group of congregations within a given area. But these two letters to Timothy and Paul’s letters to Titus and Philemon are different.
The thing that I appreciate about Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus is that it gives us a very good look into how Paul viewed Christian leadership. Both of these letters are reminders in a lot of ways about what Paul had taught Timothy and Titus about leadership while they were with him. He had shown them how to lead, how to teach, how to address false doctrine and keep the church unified and in line. These letters give us insight into these teachings.
Specific to Timothy, Paul encourages him to be strong on a number of occasions, to remain faithful in the face of opposition, to not put up with people who would look down on him because of his age and to live a good example of the faith for those that he leads.
More than anything, Paul encourages Timothy to remain strong in his faith, to keep up the practices of prayer, to “train himself in godliness”. In the midst of all of this, Paul instructs Timothy in how to deal with some of the common things that come up in church…most of which still come up today.
If I were to mention just one thing from 1 Timothy, it would be from verses 18-20 of chapter 1. Paul encourages Timothy to engage strongly in battle through faith and a good conscience. I think that it is easy for all of us to forget that our engagement with our faith is a battle, if we are doing it right. Satan should be livid at us for how we are bringing glory to God in how we live our lives and cling to our faith. A great many people struggle with one or both of those issues. Either they are weak in their faith, or they have a rotten conscience.
By the way, just as a side note here. Do you know how you rot your conscience? By ignoring it. If you do something your conscience tells you is wrong long enough, your conscience will stop bothering you about it.
Our lives as Christians is a battle my friends and we must not be ignorant of that fact; because if we are ignorant of it, we are in danger of what Paul calls “suffering the shipwreck of our faith.” (1 Timothy 1:19). There are some verses that give me a chill every time I read them, and that verse is one of them. To shipwreck your faith, that thought makes me stop and take stock. Where is my faith? Am I heading for the rocks?
It also makes me sad to think that there are those, past and present, who fall into that category. My friends, let us make sure that we are not among the wreckage.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Titus