Welcome to the Foundations Daily podcast. My name is Helen, and I’m starting the week by looking at 1Timothy 4 vs6-10. You can listen to this passage in full at the end of the podcast.
This is our third week of looking at this letter – but who exactly is Timothy? I’d like to use today’s reading to reflect on his background and his context, and to see what we can learn from Timothy’s life and his relationship with Paul.
So, let’s start at the beginning……..
Timothy’s mother was Jewish and his Dad was Greek, but we know from the book of Acts that his grandmother, Lois, was a Christian, and so was his mother, Eunice; and therefore Timothy was raised to know Jesus. So, he was this mixed race boy, with only 1 parent who was a Christian, surrounded by lots of non-Christian friends and connections through his father, who seemingly never converted.
If people say the Bible doesn’t relate to society today, where we find ourselves having to navigate all sorts of different cultures, races and family backgrounds……just point them to Timothy!
We can learn a lot from his experiences as a child. From a young age, Lois and Eunice had raised Timothy on the message of faith and had taught him to follow sound teaching. This enabled him to steer a course through his culture and context, and to keep his eyes firmly fixed on Jesus.
If you are parenting young children, how can you raise your little ones on the message of faith, so that they too will be able to grow and thrive as disciples of Jesus, no matter what culture and context they find themselves in?
The teaching and training Timothy received in the home was to prove instrumental as he entered adolescence. As a teenager, Timothy was passionate and radical, and he was also released to be a good servant of Jesus.
Timothy was about 16 when Paul first met him, but by this age his character, conduct and personal discipleship were already well spoken about and respected. Because of this, Paul invited Timothy to join him and Silas on his secondary missionary journey.
So Timothy left home. He tried to get into Asia to preach the Gospel, and then helped to set up churches in Philippi and Thessalonica. That’s pretty full on for a 16 year old. However, he also agreed to be circumcised before they set off, so that he would be accepted by the Jewish people they were going to preach to. If that doesn’t show you the radical faith of this teenage boy, I’m not sure what will!
But what can we learn from Timothy as a teenager?
Well, if you are a young person listening to this, remember that God has always used teenagers with radical faith to play a central part in sharing the Gospel. God is calling you to lead and to disciple other people, just as he called Timothy.
As you have been raised on the message of faith, and taught to follow the teachings of Jesus, now pass this on to others, and steer clear of silly stories or myths that could divert or distract you from what God is calling you to do.
This stage of Timothy’s life is also a challenge to those raising teenagers today. Eunice was definitely not what we might call a ‘helicopter parent’, or a ‘curling parent’. She didn’t go ahead of him, making sure his path was smooth, trying to remove any obstacles that he might encounter, and neither did she hover around him, constantly overseeing every aspect of his life.
She released him.
If you are parenting a teenager or a young adult, are you ready to release them to be a good servant of Jesus in their generation, no matter where this journey takes them, no matter what the risks are, and no matter what fears you have?
And then finally, when we read the books of 1 and 2 Timothy, we find letters to a man who is now between 30-40 years old; written by Paul – his friend and spiritual mentor – who is probably aged 60-65 by this point.
What can we learn from today’s verses if we are in these age demographics?
Paul was in his 40s when he began to invest in the teenaged Timothy. This discipleship was centred upon relationship; and now in his 60s, Paul continued to write Timothy letters of encouragement, and to pass on his wisdom and experience of leadership.
If you are 40 to 60+, are you passing on wise counsel to others who could benefit from your years of experience of walking with Jesus? Who are the young adults that God is calling you to build relationship with, invest in, mentor and disciple?
And if you are nearer to Timothy’s age, then the question today is, “How flabby are you?!” It would seem that even in New Testament times, it was in your 30s-40s that the waistline grew a little and it suddenly took a lot more hard work to keep your body looking vaguely like it did in your 20s!
Paul knew this, and so in verse 7 he wrote, “Exercise daily in God – no spiritual flabbiness please!”
How spiritually fit are you, and are you the kind of person who reflects God’s image?
This was the question that Paul put to Timothy; and it’s a great question for all of us to ask ourselves.
Do we invest as much time and effort in keeping our relationship with God in shape, as we do in keeping our body in shape? Do we prioritise prayer over park run and pilates? Have we been tricked by silly myths and stories about what our body needs to look like, rather than thinking about what our life needs to look like?
No matter what our age or stage of life, there is so much that we can learn from Timothy, and I’m looking forward to continuing our journey through Paul’s letters to him this week.
Lord, thank you for those people who have raised us up in our faith and have helped us to follow your Word. Show us who it is that you want us to invest in and disciple, and help us to stay spiritually fit, reflecting your image to those around us. Amen.
BIBLE READING: 1 Timothy 4:6-10 (MSG)
You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the followers of Jesus there, and you’ll be a good servant of Jesus. Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. This is why we’ve thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We’re banking on the living God, Saviour of all men and women, especially believers.