Devotional # 208. 1 Timothy 6:11-21

Devotional # 208. 9/24/16. 1 Timothy 6:11-21.

Intro. It’s been exactly 4 years to the day since I started sending these Devotionals! My heart behind starting these was from the first time we did English camps in Hungary. I wanted to continue giving Bible studies to the Hungarian kids from the camps so I got their email addresses and went through the gospels. It grew into me emailing it to Americans also. This has been a great blessing for me to write and I’ve heard good feedback from a few of you also. But for the last couple of years God has put writing a book on my heart. My wife has been reading the book The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst, which talks about how we often say “yes” to requests when we should say “no” or we chose the wrong option of “yes” for our “yes.” The point is that I’ve been stretched thin with personal, church and writing responsibilities. Although this weekly Devotional is blessed by God, I’ve been called to say “the best yes” is focusing on writing a book and stopping the regular Devotionals. I will still post several specific Devotionals in the future.

In today’s reading we’ll look at the holiness of Jesus and how we should continually share that with others. Fittingly, we’re encouraged to stay the course and confess Jesus, even if  He changes our ministry. We’re finishing out the chapter and the book today.

vv. 11-13. Confession of the Eternal

Paul exhorts Christians to “flee these things.” This doesn’t mean we try and combat them, it means to run away from them. To the best of our ability, like Joseph running from Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:12), we need to retreat. As always, Paul gives us a list of the things to pursue: “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (v. 11). Paul continues by telling us to “fight the good fight.” We’ve talked about the “Armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11-18, Devotional # 119) and something very similar to this in Philippians 3:13-14 (Devotional # 134) where there was the idea of “fight the good fight” along with enduring for the “prize” (as we’ll see next with laying “hold on eternal life”).

What does Paul mean by “lay hold on eternal life”? If we’re already Christians don’t we already have eternal life? Yes, but this is a little different; instead of having our head buried in the earthly “love of money”, it should be high in the heavenly mindset. It is probable that this is referring to “The Imperishable Crown” also known as the “Victor’s Crown” (Source 1), for more on the Six Crowns of the believer see Devotional # 136. If we are to release and run from sin, then we are to pursue and grab ahold of “eternal life.”

Paul tells us to “hold” to what we were “called” and continue to confess it in front of “many witnesses” (v. 12). Paul urges these Christians to commit to these things before God the Father (“God”) and God the Son (“Jesus Christ”). He then reminds us that Jesus was faithful to witness in front of Pilate (v. 13) as we should be faithful in front of whoever we’re given an opportunity.

vv. 14-16. The Awesomeness of Jesus Christ

We’re to keep this “commandment” until the Rapture (“Jesus Christ’s appearing”). I love that Paul focuses our attention on God’s timing being different than our own. Often we want things to happen “right now” but Jesus’ timing is always best. Jesus will “appear” and rapture the Church which will happen in Jesus’ own time and at that point we no longer need to work at keeping the commandment of witnessing about Jesus. The awesome thing, as we read in Revelation, is that we get to keep witnessing about Jesus but were doing it fully on His power and not our own. As Paul shares this he begins a spontaneous doxology. He shares Jesus is “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power” (vv. 15-16). What a beautiful encapsulation of who Jesus is! Yet again, the Bible reminds us of how much greater He is than us. What a vast chasm there is between God the Son and us. And yet, as we look at what a few of these words and phrases mean, we also see how humble He is to have met us where we are and be called our Brother (Romans 8:29, etc.).

We’ll look at the words/phrases: 1. “only Potentate”, 2. “dwelling in unapproachable light” and 3. “whom no man has seen or can see.”

  1. only Potentate” means “Sovereign” and in Greek means “might” and “power” (Source 2). The NIV translates it as “only Ruler.” So this has the same emphasis as the phrases directly after this (“King of kings and Lord of lords”).
  2. dwelling in unapproachable light” is a great description and reminds me of 1 John 1:5 where we’re told that “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” Light reveals the truth of a matter, illuminating secrets and shadows. But the kind of “light” that Jesus is, is unparalleled. I think of our Sun, the greatest source of light for our planet; but I can’t approach it and live. In the same way God (who is even greater, having created the Sun) can’t be approached without annihilating that person. But if Jesus is that “truth-light” and lived on earth for 33 years how can He be “unapproachable”? Let’s look at the next phrased for that answer.
  3. whom no man has seen or can see” is an interesting phrase. A Jehovah’s Witness friend once quoted John 1:18 to me which says, “no one has seen God at any time.” He used this to tell me that since people had seen Jesus and no one has seen God then Jesus couldn’t be God. The problem is that his first premise was falsely based upon his understanding of the word “seen.” I don’t blame Him, many of us, when first reading this might look at it similarly. However, we have to remember that to have a proper understanding of Scripture we have to look at all of Scripture instead of just picking half a verse to prove a point. For example Exodus 33:20 tells us no one can see God’s face and live, and we read 1 Timothy 1:17 that said God is “invisible” (see Devotional # 195). At the same time Jacob saw God (Genesis 32:30) and Moses saw God (Exodus 33:11). So there must be a difference in how we understand “seeing God.” Most simply it comes down to how much of God we’re allowed to see. No one has seen all of God’s glory, but many people have seen a protected, safer form of God. Going back to the John 1:18 statement that “no one has seen God at any time” and reconciling that with seeing Jesus, Matthew Henry brings up four points: 1. “The nature of God is spiritual” therefore man can’t see Him with human eyes but we can see Him with faith (Heb. 11:27), 2. In the OT when God ‘showed’ Himself it was imperfect compared to making Himself known in “the incarnation of Christ”, 3. The Old Testament prophets were not as qualified as Christ “to make known the mind and will of God”, 4. Christ must be heeded since He “knew more of [God’s] mind than anyone else ever did” (Source 3).

We started this section with descriptions like “Potentate” and “King of kings” and finished with “unapproachable light” and that “no man has seen or can see” Him. This last phrase of “whom no man has seen or can see” is a fitting conclusion to the ideas of how awesome Jesus, God the Son, is. It then makes sense that Paul completes this verse that Jesus deserves all “honor and everlasting power.” Wasn’t that Paul’s point in verses 12-13 on why we should witness to others? So how do we give all glory to Jesus? There are many ways and sometimes we have our own personal ways of doing that. One is to read Jesus’ words, feel convicted and obey them. Another is to recognize Him for who He is completely. You can tell a cult that calls itself “Christian” by their denial of Jesus’ complete deity (being God). Why is Jesus’ godship such a controversy? Because if He is not fully God then we don’t have to fully obey Him or give Him all “honor” and worship. Lastly, another way to give all glory to Jesus is by making Him Lord of your life. If He isn’t sitting on the throne of your heart, governing every aspect of your life, then He doesn’t have all “honor.”

vv. 17-19. Sharing Riches

I talked about this greed being a characteristic of a false teacher two weeks ago in 1 Timothy 6:1-5 (Devotional # 206) and this is a continuation of what we read in 1 Timothy 6:6-10 (Devotional # 207), specifically vv. 9-10. There we were reminded to be content that our base needs are taken care of by God, and that dependence on worldly riches will end in disappointment and failure. Here, Paul commands that the wealthy not trust in those riches but in spiritual riches (v. 17). How do they do this? By doing “good works” (remember these are “proving works”, not “striving works” – see my St. Patrick’s Day Devotional for more). When the Holy Spirit convicts us to get our minds off ourselves and serve others we become content and spiritually rich! Remember in Matthew 6:19-21 when Jesus told us all of this world’s wealth will be lost but we have a savings account in heaven.

Ravi Zacharias tells the true story of a man who is on the top 10 wealthiest people in the world list. He came to faith in Jesus when he realized he had everything the world had to offer but was still empty inside. Zacharias uses this man’s simple faith to illustrate Jesus’ explanation that it is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for the rich to get into heaven (Matthew 19:24, Source 4). These “good works” of sharing God’s blessing with others, giving hope to the hopeless, will be “a good foundation” for “eternal life.” This is what I’ve been telling you! This life is a training ground for us to learn about Jesus and share Him with everyone!

vv. 20-21. Staying the Course

Paul choses an interesting way to end the book and chapter (although originally the letter didn’t have chapter demarcations). He encourages Timothy to be faithful to work on what had been committed to him. This was more than just punching a time clock in ministry to the Lord; God had specifically called Timothy (2 Timothy 4:5) to his ministry. In the same way God has called each of us to specific ministries. Often this isn’t a calling to be a pastor or missionary to Africa, instead it’s to be faithful to proclaim Jesus at your work, or in your neighborhood or with family. We may be called to something specific for 6 months and move to another thing, or 60 years of the same thing. But we can’t let anything (in Timothy’s case it was fabricated “knowledge”) deter us from what God has called us to do.

Conclusion. I want to be faithful in what I’ve been called to do. And I want you to be faithful to your calling. For me I feel like it’s time to stop these weekly Devotionals and focus on the book. I will continue to send the special Election Devotionals each month and I hope you continue reading the Bible and having daily devotions on your own. This week’s teachings in our confession of the eternal, the awesomeness and the rightful worship of Jesus, recognizing our spiritual riches and sharing them and staying the course of our Christian walk is a great way to finish these regular Devotionals. Remember, do not stray “concerning the faith.” Stay rooted and grounded in the Lord and He will give you the strength to continue the ministry He has given you. “Grace be with you. Amen.”

 

References.

Source 1: A.R. Fausset, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/jfb/1Ti/1Ti_006.cfm?a=1125010

Source 2: dynasteshttps://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1413&t=KJV

Source 3: Matthew Henry, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Jhn/Jhn_001.cfm?a=998001

Source 4: Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods, Thomas Nelson, 2012-01-09, iBooks, pp. 154-158.

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Devotional # 207. 1 Timothy 6:6-10

Devotional # 207. 9/18/16. 1 Timothy 6:6-10.

Intro. Everyone is searching for happiness (actually they mean “contentment”). This week we will be solely focused on what “contentment” and “godliness” for the Christian looks like.

vv. 6-10. Godliness with Contentment

We come to a very famous verse, “now godliness with contentment is great gain.” We’ve been covering the first part of the equation – “godliness” – through this whole book of 1 Timothy (not to mention elsewhere like Devotional # 201). Think about what Paul has told us in 1 Timothy from the beginning where he confessed prior sins but how Jesus transformed his life (1 Timothy 1:12-17, Devotional # 195). From there how his heart was to see every Christian live a godly life, calling them out when they’re wrong, exhorting when they’re doing well. This bring us to the second part of this equation – “contentment” – which Paul will spend the rest of this section talking about.

First, we see that there can be “godliness withOUT contentment.” In other words we can infer that its possible to be godly but not fully content. And we know that it’s impossible to be truly content without God. Sure, there can be joy in sin (Hebrews 11:25) but ultimately it won’t last (Luke 15:13-15).

Second, we’re given the truthful context of our lives. We come into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing (v. 7). The implication is that God took care of us on either side of our earthly life and we controlled nothing (reminiscent of Job 1:21). So while on earth what makes us think we control anything? As rich as your family is or as poor as your family is your basic needs are covered by God (v. 8). Paul gives us the first part of contentment: that we receive the goodness of God providing “food and clothing” with humility. What happens when we ignore that fact?

Thirdly, ignoring that our basic needs are taken care of can lead to the “desire to be rich.” The simplest definition of “riches” is having more of something than others. Our sin nature isn’t satisfied at having enough, it always wants more: a better house, a faster car, a new wife, etc. But all of us have seen others, and experienced it ourselves, the “desire to be rich” makes us “fall into temptation” and “lusts” which end up “drowning” us in “destruction” (v. 9).

As we move into verse 10, let’s consider that there are two types of kids: one finds $5 on the ground and buys ice cream, the other puts it in savings. One can end up with a tummy ache and the other can end up greedy. Both of those kids will grow into adults and have experiences and molding and run-ins with God. There are two types of adults: one gets a bonus and buys a 200” TV; the other gets a bonus and saves it. Both of these can end poorly. For example, the first, has the TV fall while setting it up which breaks his leg. The second, saves the money under the mattress (having gotten cynical about the banking system) and is robbed. Of course these are sarcastic generalities but the point is made – just because you get some money doesn’t mean it should go to your own desires.

These two categories are seen everywhere: spend or save.  There’s nothing wrong with either – in moderation. I’ve heard lower/middle class Christians complain about not having more money but every time they get $10 they blow it. Why would God bless you with more if you can’t handle a little (and don’t give me the, ‘Well, if I had more I wouldn’t blow it’ excuse)? And I’ve seen other Christians who are wealthy but they spend it on themselves (the old, ‘it’s my money, I earned it’ excuse). Sadly, both of these groups of people are never truly “content” (or, dare I say, godly).

This sums up the next famous verse in this section: “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” Jesus told us something similar to this in Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13 (mentioned in Devotional #26 and Devotional # 59). As always, we must not misquote this as, “money is a root of all kinds of evil.” But it is the “love of money.” I was wondering which of the four Greek words for “love” Paul uses here. But it’s actually philargyria which, in the whole Bible, is only used here and is translated as “love of money” (Source 1). Since that doesn’t give us much looking at the root (philargyros) can help. It means being “covetous” as used in Luke 16:14 and 2 Timothy 3:2 (Source 2). So being driven by a desire for money that is not yours is a root of all kinds of evil. Last week we talked about symptoms, problems and root causes (Devotional # 206). Fausset is careful to note that the English translation “the root” should be “a root” of all evil. The point is that money “is not the sole root of evils, but it is a leading ‘root of bitterness’ (Hebrews 12:15), for ‘it destroys faith, the root of all that is good’” (Source 3).

Unfortunately this isn’t only applying to non-Christians but Paul is specifically speaking to the Christians in Ephesus. Those Christians were no different than we are today. In the United States we grow up with the consumer mentality. What I believe is different from back then is how widespread it is nowadays. Not only are new churches feeding into this all the time but even the established churches have switched to this mentality. We will spend a little more time on this next week with verses 17-19.

Therefore, the mix for the perfect earthly life (godly and content) will truthfully be “great gain” and only achievable for a Christian. As always, I have to be the downer and mention that problems and persecution will still happen but the good news is that the content Christian will take it all in stride and recognize God’s faithfulness.

Conclusion.

In today’s reading we focused on the fact that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” We recognized: 1. The implication is that there can be “godliness withOUT contentment” (v. 6), 2. That we come into, and leave, this life with no earthly possession but God always provides for our basic needs (vv. 7-8), 3. If we don’t humbly and thankfully acknowledge God’s provision we’ll strive after riches which will be dissatisfying (v. 9), 4. There are two types of people: spend or save, and how if those aren’t kept in moderation then you won’t be content (v. 9), 5. How “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” which feeds bitterness and destroys faith (v. 10), 6. How pervasive this is in the American church today.

So what can we do about it? We can note the warning signs in our own lives and in the lives of others. We can take action, through reading the Bible and prayer, training ourselves to desire the Word of God over the dying and corroding new gadgets and possessions that clamor for our attention every day. Next week we’ll talk about fleeing the sins that keep us discontented.

 

References.

Source 1: philargyria,  https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5365&t=KJV

Source 2: philargyros, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=G5366&t=KJV

Source 3: A. R. Fausset, partly quoting Bengel, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/jfb/1Ti/1Ti_006.cfm?a=1125010

Devotional # 206. 1 Timothy 6:1-5

Devotional # 206. 9/12/16. 1 Timothy 6:1-5.

Intro. Last week we talked about how to take care of pastors, being impartial, drinking wine for illness and wisdom when considering pastoral candidates. From the beginning of this book we’ve known that it was Paul’s heart to train up Timothy, a young pastor with a problematic church (1 Timothy 1:1-2, Devotional # 192). Today we see Paul talk about bondservants and false teachers. This is like a tailor made list for you! Everyone hates slavery but knows to submit to God, everyone needs to know how to distinguish between true Bible teachers and false ones.

vv. 1-2. Bondservants and Masters

We’ve talked a bit about slavery recently (1 Timothy 1:5-11, Devotional # 194) but here Paul is specifically talking about “bondservants.” We’ve talked about that many times also (see Philippians 1:1, Devotional # 121) but if you need a reminder, a “bondservant” was someone who had been a slave but when set free decided to stay with their master. Here, Paul reminds the person who has chosen to stay with their master to submit themselves and give the honor that they deserve. As we’ll see in a minute this applies to a Christian or non-Christian master. There are two very interesting reasons for this: 1. “so that the name of God…may not be blasphemed” and 2. so that God’s “doctrine may not be blasphemed.” What is blasphemy? In Colossians 3:8 we saw it means ‘slanderous speech towards the divine majesty’ (Devotional # 160). God’s name and His doctrine is very important business and all we have to do to help keep people from slandering His name and doctrine is to make sure our attitude is right when it comes to our servitude!

Next we’re told if the master is a Christian, not to hate them even though you know everyone is equal through Jesus (notice in 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 slaves are part of the church). Instead take the opportunity to serve a godly believer because it will bless them (and you!)

You may be thinking, ‘this has nothing to do with me’, but you’re wrong. The first thought in your mind should be that you are a bondservant of Jesus (see Romans 1:1) but it can be hard to learn how to properly be a bondservant to a Savior who is not physically present. That’s why we can apply this to our work bosses or the government (see my most recent Election Devotional here. God is training us to submit to our bosses, whether Christian or non-Christian, so we can apply these things to our good and faithful Master Jesus Christ! If you want more info on this see Colossians 3:22 (Devotional # 162).

vv. 3-5. False Teachers

Notice that just prior to this, in verse 2, Paul told Timothy to “teach and exhort these things.” This is crucial to understanding why and how false teachers don’t teach and don’t exhort in the way God wants.

Here’s our list of what false teachers will do:

  1. They “teach otherwise” (to Paul’s, and the rest of the Bible’s, teachings),
  2. Does not consent to wholesome words”,
  3. Doesn’t consent to “the words of our Lord Jesus Christ”,
  4. Doesn’t consent “to the doctrine which accords with godliness.”

Everything points back to what Jesus said and put in place. A false teacher will contradict or skew Jesus’ words. If I play Devil’s Advocate here, what’s so bad about bending Jesus’ words? Maybe this person has studied a lot and have pieced together some of Jesus’ words and other religious figures words. What’s so bad about that? Or maybe their hearts are in the right place so its not really that big of a deal? Maybe Jesus’ words weren’t completely credible? Maybe we don’t have accurate copies of His words? Maybe what He said 2,000 years ago doesn’t really apply anymore?

The answer to all of these questions comes down to what kind of person would say the things on the above list? You may think I’m going to say that it’s a ‘bad person’ who would say this. Or maybe a ‘mean person’? But you’ve got it wrong…I don’t hate the false teacher, and I’m not on a witch hunt. I just see him for who he is and who is using him. And I want to apply Paul’s next words to every person who hears the false teacher. Paul tells us what kind of person the false teacher is:

  1. He is proud”,
  2. He doesn’t know anything (when it comes to real spirituality),
  3. He “is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words.”

These character traits are of a person not interested in learning lessons. There is no room here for humility or being guided by God. The outcome of these characteristics and roots of sin are:

  1. envy”,
  2. strife”,
  3. reviling”,
  4. evil suspicions”,
  5. useless wranglings” (or “constant friction”) from those lacking the truth.

 

My company has a problem solving technique that can be used for anything. The idea is that if you can properly state the results of the problem (“symptoms”), then you can properly state the problem which leads to properly identifying the root cause(s). But we don’t stop there, we propose solutions (or “countermeasures”) so that the problem doesn’t keep happening. Paul has done the same thing here. He stated the symptoms (teaching opposite to the words and doctrine of Jesus), the problem (envy, strife, reviling, etc.) which brought us to the root causes (the characteristics like pride, foolishness and disputing). What is the countermeasure? “From such withdraw yourself.” How do we “withdraw” from false teachers? Every situation is different but it can be as simple as no longer going to a church or confronting the teacher about your concerns. But if this continues the command is simple: to withdraw yourself. First, you must read the Bible to know if what the teacher is saying contrasts Scripture or is just different than what you’ve heard about the Bible. Second, if you do confront the teacher, or someone asks you about it, see how they react. As long as you’re not being rude, people should respond in humility and with Bible verses explaining what they meant. If it becomes about their experiences or accomplishments or education or feelings, that’s a good indicator that they’re not as interested in good exposition of the Scriptures as you are.

Conclusion. I love that Paul talked about bondservants and false teachers here. It’s such a contrast! I think the number 1 characteristic of a bondservant is humility, followed closely by servitude. Doesn’t that sound like the opposite of what we read about false teachers? Their driver is ego and their attitude is how everyone should listen unquestionably to them. Next week we’ll see “contentment” and how the opposite of that is greed and specifically a greed for wealth. This is another characteristic of a false teacher. I would rather be lead by a godly person who has been beaten down and learned to serve the Lord than an egotistical false teacher. I’m sure you would say the same. Now you’ve been equipped with how to recognize both types and how to properly react when in that situation.

Our Submission to Government

Our Submission to Government. 9/8/16.

We are now 2 months away from the Presidential Election in the United States. Since the beginning of this year I’ve been posting special Devotional blogs for us to consider what God is doing and what we can be doing regarding the coming United States election. We’ve talked about “Political Prayer Preparation”, the “Decision America Tour 2016”, “God’s Power in the 2016 Presidential Election”, the “Presidential Primary Election” and “Walking in the Old Paths”.

Recently I’ve talked to people who are scared about the coming election. Honestly, I’m not thrilled with the choices but we must have faith that God is in control and He will put who He wants in the White House. If that is the case, what am I responsible for? Let’s look at Romans 13:1-7:

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”

I have 8 pages of notes on these 7 verses but in the interest of time and applicable content, here are the key points. We should notice this applies to “every soul” so no one is exempt from the command to submit to the government! Paul also doesn’t exclude any government and manages to neither recommend or condemn any form of government. He is well acquainted with how many politicians are corrupt, “oppressive…immoral and selfish” but “neither he nor the Bible has one word of advice for the believer [except] submission. Think about how David handled being hunted by Saul (1 Sam. 26:9, 10). The only caveat to this submission is when the government is in contradiction to the Bible (Acts 5:29, etc.). Regarding Christians who have stood against a government Chuck Colson says, “in each case its purpose was ‘to demonstrate their submissiveness to God, not their defiance of government’” (Source 1). It would never be proper to rebel against a government that wasn’t breaking God’s law but it becomes the Christian’s duty to resist a perversion of God’s law and given authority.

So it comes down to trusting in God and what He will do in this election and, as long as it doesn’t contradict the Bible, what our role of submission to these authorities looks like. It is a very un-American thing to submit to the government…but it is a very godly thing. And as for me and my house, we will submit and serve the LORD.

 

References

Source 1: John R.W. Stott, The Message of Romans, 1994, p. 342.

Devotional # 205. 1 Timothy 5:17-25

Devotional # 205. 9/5/16. 1 Timothy 5:17-25.

Intro. Last week we spent most of the time with Paul telling Timothy how to take care of three types of widows. This week Paul teaches pastor Timothy how to take care of pastors, encourages us to be impartial, drinking wine for illness and wisdom when considering pastoral candidates.

vv. 17-20. Pastors: The Good and the Bad

Here Paul tells Timothy how to take care of pastors (“elders”): both the good and the bad. We defined pastors as those who had a position of leadership in the church, they can have gifts of counseling, being able to study the Bible, teaching others and encouragement (1 Timothy 3:1-13, Devotional # 200. Paul mentions the positive first: when these pastors are doing their job – reward them for it. Does this sounds a little weird to you? When I’m at work sometimes I hear someone congratulate another person and I think, “why did you congratulate them? They were just doing their job.” But pastors are different because they’re dealing with the spiritual realm which is infinitely different than the physical. A pastor who is fighting the good fight not against flesh and blood but instead against spiritual forces and principalities (Ephesians 6:12, Devotional # 119) is struggling and warring every day. Often the pastor who is doing his best in the trenches, is being stepped on and underappreciated by the very people he’s fighting for.

Pastors deserve “double honor.” This implies that all leaders deserve honor, which is respect for what they do, not a worship of them but a respect of representing God. So pastor-teachers deserve double of that respect because they are bringing the word to life. To an eager believer this sounds like a sweet gig and they may be tempted to push themselves into this role. But James 3:1 reminds us, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” So just as they are worthy of double honor, they will also be subjected to double judgment (we’ll talk more about this type of judgement in a minute).

Paul also gives us two Scriptures (Deuteronomy 25:4, Luke 10:7) where we’re told to compensate a worker for their work. This doesn’t only refer to paying a pastor (although that is one way of compensation). It can also mean helping them with bills or providing a house, rent free (parish). It can also mean that people can fill in for a job the pastor usually does in order to free up his time. What we can take away from this is that we should be encouraging, respecting and compensating pastor-teachers when they are doing the Lord’s work.

Now that Paul has covered the positive side he needs to address the negative side. If there is an “accusation against an elder” it needs to be backed up by two or three people who have seen what they’re being accused of. This is because there are well-meaning, and not-so-well-meaning people who want to discredit pastors and force them to either teach a certain way or step down from ministry. This is the same formula that Jesus gave in Matthew 18:15-17 when a normal church attendee is accused of sin. In this case, with pastors, if the accusation is true then it needs to be brought before the whole congregation. This is because the pastor is not above correction and there needs to be a healthy “fear” among everyone of not making the same mistake. Paul will remind us shortly not to judge too quickly (5:22).

vv. 21-22. Impartiality

With his mind still focused on the judgment of church leaders, Paul encourages Timothy on being impartial. It’s a weighty matter because he charges this in front of the first two Persons of the Trinity (“God and the Lord Jesus Christ”) as well as “angels.” These “elect angels” are the ones who didn’t follow Satan but chose God. This tells us a few things: 1. In the same way humans have been “elected” by God to be in heaven, so have the angels, 2. The angels, along with God, see everything we do on a regular basis, 3. God made it so angels and humans would be part of His eternal kingdom and since we will judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3) we need to practice being unbiased during our training time here on earth.

As a Christian, Timothy shouldn’t be showing any prejudice but as a church leader he especially shouldn’t have any favoritism.

v. 23. Wine for Illness

Apparently Timothy had a painful health problem, here called “frequent infirmities.” Paul suggests that Timothy drink a little wine to help with the pain.

I grew up thinking that drinking any alcohol was a sin. When I was in high school I shared this incorrect view with my girlfriend who got really angry. She told me her mom had a stomach issue and the only comfort was a little wine with her meal. Not only did this teach me a valuable lesson to actually read the Bible before I claim something but also a recognition that this verse still applies today. My only concern is that her mom had more than “a little” wine each night. As MacArthur puts it, “Paul was not advocating that Timothy lower the high standard of behavior for leaders (cf. Num. 6:1-4; Prov. 31:4,5)” (Source 1).

vv. 24-25. Pastoral Sins & Good Works: Clear and Hidden

Paul drifted off to the issue of Timothy’s healthy and a temporary solution to the issue but he swings back around to behavior and judgement of that behavior. Here he states an observational fact: some people’s sins are evident to everyone and other people’s sins are secret and hidden.

What does Paul mean, “preceding them to judgement, but those of some men follow later”? It’s important for us to look at the word “judgment” here. In the original Greek it’s krisis  which has the root krima, as we’ve talked about several times (Devotional # 33 & Devotional # 92). Krima has a meaning of temporary, earthly judgment, as opposed to eternal condemnation judgment. This is speaking specifically of the evaluation process of a pastor. Some pastoral candidate’s prior sins are known and other’s sins may be hidden but will be found out about later (Numbers 32:23).

The same is mentioned of the pastoral candidates “good works.” As always we have to add the disclaimer that this isn’t in reference to the false teaching that we can get into heaven by doing any sort of good works. These are the “proving works” that show that the Holy Spirit is working through us (for more on what I call “striving vs. proving works” click here.

Therefore, wisdom when determining a pastoral candidate is to be patient and willing to accept that as time goes by more things will be revealed. Some of those things will be disappointing (“sins”) and others will be delighting (“good works”). These are things which every person does and one doesn’t necessarily outweigh the other. It just means that we must prayerfully consider God’s hand in bringing the right person to the right position at the right time.

Conclusion.

Today’s Scripture is immensely helpful to pastors, elder boards and the general congregation’s understanding of how a biblical church should function. For those who are more interested in a personal takeaway you’ve also been given some things to prayerfully consider. How can you help your pastor? How can you support and compensate your pastor? Is your church doing what it should be doing? How can you be showing impartiality? Can you encourage someone in this area? If you or a friend are having health issues could a little wine help? You should consult a doctor about this and how can you make sure you don’t become an alcoholic in the process? What steps were taken to vet your pastor (you’re not on a witch hunt but your pastor’s experience might be an encouragement for you)? Do you feel called to be a pastor-teacher? Does a friend or family member? How does God hold people accountable for their thoughts and actions? How can you be walking in His way in order to prayerfully consider these things?

Notice that most of these questions address your need to help others. As always when we seek to help others we get our mind off ourselves and start truly serving and feeling rewarded for simply doing what Jesus commanded us to do.

 

References.

Source 1: John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1870.