Good morning and welcome to Wednesday’s podcast today we continue our journey through 1 Timothy, Paul’s advice to his dear friend, and the young leader Timothy. You will remember that Paul’s advice was to minister to others (in other words serve selflessly), find someone who speak truth to you, follow precious instructions and train yourself to be godly.
And if that was general advice today’s advice in 1 Timothy 4:11-16 is more specific. I shall focus on vs 14. Paul writes:
Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
Imagine you know a master craftsman (or woman!), a worker in metal and steel. They invite you to spend time in their workshop. They measure you: height, weight, strength, arm length, balance… and a few days later, they present you with a beautifully crafted gift: a majestic sword. It’s a sword like no other, it’s ideally suited to your attributes, perfectly balanced and fits you in every way.
You take it home with you and use it to get your kids’ balls out of the tree in the garden, you wedge doors open with it, it’s strong and wide so it came in really handy to get the wheelbarrow up the front step when you were renovating. You used it to melt marshmallows in the fire and… with a rag on the end, even managed to get at those hard to reach cobwebs in the bathroom.
…and all the while a battle raged outside and friends and family were being taken down… mortally wounded… picked off by an enemy that takes no prisoners… Maybe I could use this sword to shave – it’s really sharp!
The Elders have been called together, they prayed for young Timothy. They had sought God to discern the gift that God was wanting to give this young man. They poked and prodded him, measured him, tested him to discovered his natural abilities and attributes. They sought confirmation from Jesus and they prayed, laying their hands on his head, on his shoulders and on his back. They prayed and prophesied, speaking Jesus’s promises over him, imparting the gift that God had crafted to fit exactly in his hand.
Now in the midst of the battle Paul challenges him, encourages him, “do not neglect your gift, which was given you… be diligent… give yourself fully to them. Take your sword down from above the fireplace, clean the dust and the grime from it and get back into the action. Don’t be distracted.
So, what about us? What is the gift that God has given us: the weapon of love and service which he has crafted to fit us perfectly? You see, God has chosen you. He has hand selected you because he loves you. He sees you just as you are, knows you inside out, has tested you and found you worthy. He has specially crafted a precious gift for you that only you can wield. It doesn’t fit anyone else, no-one can do what you have been selected and trained for. Sure, you are not like Mick or Tom or Bryony… you couldn’t ever hope to do the things that Dave does… or Liam or Helen… you don’t own a sword like Andy Rushworth… but they could never hope to be like you, to do the things that God wants to do through you.
So what is your gift? What is your talent? Maybe when you were younger you had passion, you were fully engaged in the battle but life and children, work and the mortgage has distracted you, life’s disappointments have encouraged you to place the sword back in its sheath and stash it in the attic. Wake up! A battle rages all around… we need you fighting at our side.
Or maybe you have never quite known what your gift is. You are yet to discover your unique talent. Get on your knees and pray. Ask God, gather the elders and ask them to pray with you, talk to your small group, put yourself forward to lead worship, read from the Bible, to lead prayer. Message a friend and offer hospitality, pray for healing, ask for words of prophecy… and share them. Read the lists of gifts and roles in Ephesians 4:11, Romans 12:6–8; 1 Corinthians 12:8–10 and 1 Peter 4:11. Ask others to help you figure out the contribution that God wants you to make.
And do it diligently… give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress…
Father, thank you that you have called us, that you have chosen us, thank you that through our lives you have been working and moulding us to be the men and women that you want us to be. Father I pray that you would help us to discover and put to use the precious gift that you have specially fitted us with, so that we may take part in the battle and see live saved, people transformed and your love break out from within our walls, Amen.
READING: 1 Timothy 4:11-16
Command and teach these things. 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. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.