Good morning and welcome to Tuesday’s podcast. Yesterday we asked the question, “who is the focus of our lives, Jesus, or our own self?” Will we be deceived into thinking that life is all about us, that we are at the centre? Or will we continue to fill our lives with Jesus, to make him our goal, our everything?
Today’s reading is 1 Timothy 4:6-10. In v 6 Paul tells Timothy that if he, Timothy, “points these things out to the brothers and sisters he will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of faith and of the good teaching that he has followed.”
Have you ever stood in the middle of a dense fog, with a shotgun, and tried to shoot pheasants?
No? Nor have I, but I would imagine that it would be pretty tricky.
The dogs and the beaters would wander off into the forest and quickly fade from view. You would hear them crashing around disturbing the undergrowth and the wild animals. You might even hear the cry of a pheasant and the frantic beating of its wings as it takes flight. But you would be shooting blind. The chances of you hitting what you intended to hit… and not something else… would be pretty thin.
I wonder, do you ever feel like this about your faith? What am I doing? What should I be aiming at? I’m supposed to be becoming more like Jesus but what does that look like in practice? Move to Palestine and wander around in sandals and a long one piece tunic…? Surely that’s not practical.
It is easy to feel like we are standing in a dense fog, hearing faint sounds, taking aim and firing, rushing in the direction we fired to discover that we hit nothing…
Timothy has Paul to instruct him, to point out what Timothy should do next. Timothy takes advice from a godly man with a proven track record. A man who is secure in God, who wants only the best for Timothy. I wonder, do you have someone like this in your life? Who do you go to when the fog descends and you can’t see clearly the path ahead?
And what can we learn from Paul’s advice?
- Firstly he says, “you will be a good minister” – minister simply means ‘servant’ – one who is not self seeking but works for the good of others.
- Next, “nourished on the truths of faith”… who speaks truth to you? Not criticism or put downs… not flattery or exaggerated praise but the truths of faith?
- Next, nourished on good teaching… Good teaching? – Beautiful, precious, inspiring instruction… from this phrase we get the churchy word, “doctrine” but it is easy to think this means good theology, philosophy of religion… thinking the right stuff… No, it’s precious instruction… instruction is about knowing what to do and doing it. Paul says even more… The good teaching you have followed… it’s hard to follow something that is not practical advice…
- Finally, train yourself to be godly: train yourself to be godly: devoted, pious, reverent and respectful. This isn’t cold religious duty but beautiful, overflowing, abundant love freely received, freely given to those around us… love that flows from devotion to the God, the God of love.
Today, no matter how long you have been a believer, take stock, consider what you are aiming for, ask God to dispel the fog so that you may see clearly the direction that God is setting you upon. Are we serving others? Do we have people speaking truth to us? Are we following his precious instructions? Are we training ourselves to be godly?
Father, dispel the fog that so often surrounds us. Give us a clear picture of the direction you want us to travel and what to aim at to grow in our lives with you. Place wise and godly people around us who will speak the truth to us and lead us forward as we put our hope in you. Amen.
READING: 1 Timothy 4:6-10
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. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 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. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 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.