Prayer and fasting 21 days – 1 Tim 1
By Ps Simon Smailus
How should leaders manage the ministry of the local church? This letter focuses on aspects of Timothy’s personal life – godliness is a theme that continues to surface throughout the letter. This is important to understand, because eternally fruitful ministry flows out of a life right with God not just effective leadership structures and models.
False teachers who have lost connection with Jesus rely on religious practices. But Paul instructs Timothy in ways that lead to “love that comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith!”
Lord Jesus, thank You that truth is not just ideas and words but ultimately You are the Truth. Help us, in praying and reading scripture, to know You better and to share this Truth with others.
The letter is called Timothy because it is a letter to a man called Timothy, from Paul, who was at that time in prison for his faith in Rome. Timothy was part of Paul’s apostolic team and had been discipled by him. He looked to Paul for ‘covering’ or fathering in his role as pastor of the church in Ephesus, which seems to have been one of many apostolic centres planted by Paul from which teams went out to plant churches.
We can be inspired by worship and enjoy fellowship, authentic community, and experience the love of Christ that is expressed through it. However, the Church may lose its spiritual connection to God, change its character and miss its calling if we do not also hold to truth. In fact the Church is the only conduit through which the real truth of God can be made known. This places a great responsibility upon us to not only know the truth, but protect it.
Throughout the 2,000 years of church history the truth of Jesus Christ and God has been attacked on many fronts. The great creeds of the church are a testimony to Christians in declaring and protecting that truth. In our day, it seems the only absolute truth in society around us is that there can be no absolutes! Anything goes. So we are seen as narrow minded and bigoted if we proclaim the gospel as true.
Paul’s instruction to Timothy is as relevant today as it was then. He was to protect the truth. It is not enough to highlight wrong teaching, truth must be taught. W. MacDonald expresses it well:
“It is not enough to say to a child who is misbehaving, “Behave yourself!” if the child does not know what is expected in the way of good behaviour. He must be told first what good behaviour is. 1 Timothy does this for the child of God in relation to the church of God.”
This becomes a great challenge to us. It is easy to be silent. In fact, the Church’s silence in the past fifty years on many issues has partly led to decay in today’s society. It is not sufficient just to oppose something, we must demonstrate in our lives and explain with our teaching what God is like.
We must not only do this in terms of speech, but more importantly in lifestyle, so that people can see the truth by the way that we live. That is why Paul turns in the second half of the chapter to talking about his own continuing response to Jesus.
How can we know the truth ourselves? Mainly through scripture (2 Tim 3:16-7) and praying alone and with others. We need not only to hear the Bible preached and taught and to read the Bible for ourselves, but also to study it and to meditate on it. It is essential to discuss scripture with those we are close to so we can hear God’s voice together (that is one of the reasons we ask all who call All Nations their church home to join a life group!).
God does not leave us to get on with it on our own. No, we have been given the wonderful, powerful gift of the Holy Spirit. He leads us and teaches us into all truth. He speaks to us prophetically to enable us to overcome our battles. It is as we surrender to Jesus and his wisdom. As we commit ourselves to him, we find that we grow into powerful disciples who help many people who are in darkness see the light of Christ. We find that we have been blessed in Christ and we become a blessing to others!