Paul reminds Timothy to keep a close watch on himself—to watch his life and his teaching closely. In doing this, in staying true, in persevering, Paul says, “you will save both yourself and your hearers” (NIV).
We also need to keep a close watch on our life and our teaching. Our teaching should be something seen as we live our life. This means we should not teach one thing and then live another way. This means what we speak and teach to others, should be evident when we are going through the motions each day, when we are not simply intentionally sharing God’s truth to someone. The way we live our life each day teaches much more to observers than the words we speak.
Paul warns Timothy here to keep a close watch. The big issue is when we always teach and speak one way, but our life shows no evidence of living out the same teaching. Paul reminds us that this is of great importance. This is not only about our salvation, but the salvation of others. Why? If your teaching aligns with your life, people will want to listen and the seed may be planted for God to grow. If your teaching and life are very different, people will label you a hypocrite and close their ears to anything you say. We all fall short. We all have our good moments and our bad moments. There will be times when we do not live up to our teaching. No one is perfect. Even so, remember Paul’s warning. Keep a close watch.
“Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.” – 1 Timothy 4:16 [NLT]
Paul really doesn’t hold back. The church is to be a pillar and foundation of the truth. The church is the house of God. The truth is God’s truth. The truth should be the first and most important part of the church. We must profess truth. We must preach truth. We must live truth.
We see two different things described in this verse. First there is the foundation, the ground floor. Our foundation should be the living God, Who is dwelling in our midst. He is our foundational truth. Second, we read of the pillar. A pillar can be compared to the pillar that holds up a building or a pillar that tacks on an edict. This can be understood as the pillar of truth holding up the church or the pillar displaying the truth before man. Truth holds up the church. If we rid ourselves of truth, the church will collapse. What is the truth? The saving truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Word of God.
The world is trying to get the church to stop sharing the truth. The truth is offensive. The truth doesn’t align with their way of life. The world wants very much for the pillar to fall. The devil and his demons do whatever possible to keep the body of Christ from sharing truth. In doing so, in keeping people from speaking truth, the pillar and foundation weaken. Today, boldly speak truth. Cling to His truth. Stand up for His truth. The church must continue to be a pillar and foundation of the truth of God.
“So that if I am delayed, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 3:15 [NLT]
In Hosea 8, we read that Ephraim had “multiplied altars for sin” (v. 11). They built altars, but they certainly were not worshiping God as He desired. The altars were “altars of sinning.” Oh how the things that could be useful for good can be used for evil just the same. What a great reminder to tread with caution. Thankfully, God has given us His Word so we know what is desired of us.
This verse translates in the NLT as, “Even though I gave them all My laws, they act as if those laws don’t apply to them.” The ESV translates this as a “strange thing.” Like it’s strange to apply the laws to them, like it’s foreign to them. Sadly, the people of this time period were far from God. They were led away. They were sinful, idolatrous people. It did not matter how many laws there are—they would be seen as foreign nonetheless.
For many people today, God’s Law is a strange thing. People are so far from understanding the Truth, they look at what God commands and see it as strange, difficult, demanding, and even unnecessary. People do not understand the reason for the Law. God blesses us with the Law. The Law is actually all about GRACE. It is through the Law that we realize we are sinners (Romans 3:20, 7:7). As a result, the Law leads us to Jesus Christ so that we may be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24). Without the Law, we would not recognize our need for Jesus. We would not accept the grace of God. We would not be able to have the relationship for which we were created. To outsiders, the Law is a strange thing. To believers, the Law is a constant reminder that we fall short (Romans 3:23) and that we need a Savior. Knowing that He fulfilled the Law and that through Him we have life and life in abundance is a blessing! Today, remember the not-so-strange thing. More importantly, thank the Lord for His unending grace.
“Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands, they would be regarded as a strange thing.” – Hosea 8:12 [ESV]
When I was grocery shopping, I wanted to get a handful of different types of meats to prepare during the week. I saw the freezer area that typically contains the sale items. Sitting within the enclosed case were sweet brown sugar ham steaks. The price was absent. The price holder was there; however, they had not displayed the price card. Though I am very OCD with my budgeting, I decided to grab a few ham steaks since they were in the sale case. I figured I could get two for five bucks; that was the usual sale price.
I soon found out that the price wasn’t even close. Yes, the ham steaks were in the sale case; however, there was a reason that the price card was absent. The sale started the following day—a sale that required a certain purchase amount, thereby making the ham steaks only a dollar. What was my great price? Four dollars for just one! Boy did I allow myself to get led in the wrong line of thinking. If I waited another day and had the coupon that arrived in my mailbox, I would have enjoyed nice savings. As they say, looks are deceiving.
We often allow ourselves to see something and think one thing, and yet we are not even close to knowing the truth. The devil loves to trick us into thinking one thing is likely true, when it is anything but the truth. The devil plays on our fears and our doubts. He knows what will be most tempting. He knows what will pull you away from focusing on God. Remember that God wants us to fix our eyes on truth, to live truth, to know Truth. To do this, means that we devote ourselves to Jesus Christ, and we dedicate time for individual Bible reading and group study. Church attendance is important too. Allowing the Spirit to move is crucial. When you do this, you allow yourself to be filled with God’s Truth, and it is then more difficult for you to be led astray. Note, I didn’t say you won’t get led astray—only that it will be harder to be led astray. Today, take a step closer to Jesus. Spend time in His Word. Seek out His Truth. Pray for His Truth to be revealed. And then listen.
“He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” – James 1:18-22 [NLT]
The other day I had a flat tire. I was so very blessed to have a handful of people come to my rescue. It is always a blessing when there are too many hands to do a job. As we pulled the spare tire out of the car to use for a temporary solution, it became clear right away that the spare tire was flat. Good grief?!? Here’s a tire that has one job—to be ready for when a flat tire occurs – and it was flat.
Thankfully one disciple stepped up to get the spare filled with air so I could be on my way. But in the time waiting, I considered the flat tire and its failure. It had one job. Only one job. Failure. It reminded me of something we need always remember – nothing is 100% reliable except for God and His Truth. He never fails. His love never fails (Psalm 136). His Word never fails (Isaiah 55:11, Matthew 24:35, Luke 1:37).
People will fail you again and again. They might not always be on time or they might not show up at all. People may break promises or break your heart. People will lie. People will fall short. Spare tires will be flat. Cars won’t start. The money might not get deposited. The promised raise may not come. But with God, all things are sure and true. Today remember that through all the twists and turns in life, one thing remains – God. He doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6). He doesn’t leave (Deuteronomy 31:6). He keeps His promises (Deuteronomy 7:9). How awesome is our God!
The other morning a dear friend told me about an encounter she had wearing a FearNot Ministries t-shirt. While she was at a local store, someone saw her wearing the shirt and revealed that she was struggling. Because of the struggles she was facing, she just that morning turned to the Bible. She read a verse that told her not to fear—that God was with her. When my friend walked into that store, the FearNot immediately caught her eyes and she remembered what God’s Word promised her that morning.
God’s Word has so many promises, more promises than I can list in a short devotion. When we live our life knowing and trusting in these promises—knowing and trusting God and His Word—life is very different. You cannot recognize God at work, you cannot know God, unless you know His Word. It is so very important to open up your Bible and read. Don’t stop reading. Every day read. Then when you are going through struggles, when you are facing a difficult time in your life, when you are not sure which way to go—you will have His Word written on your heart.
The other day three beautiful girls came over with these hearts they made during church service. The heart displayed a verse that spoke of writing God’s Word on your heart. I asked the girls, “How can you write God’s Word on your heart?” The answer is easy – read God’s Word. Read God’s Word. Delight in His Word. Cherish His Word. Eat His Word. Chew upon it. Take it in. Treasure it. Store it up. Embrace it.
“You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.”
-Psalm 63:1-8 [NIV]
As we grow, we cannot help but put values on people. It is all around us. Some people make more money than others. Some people come from a more advanced culture than others. Some people are more popular than others. We might catch ourselves picking favorites. Sometimes we find ourselves in a position to consider whose life is more important. All life is important. All life is precious.
It is hard to see some people mistreated or passed by because they don’t fit into a mold that is popularized by the mainstream people. I have heard people say, “That person is a waste.” People have said it would be “good if he would just die.” I wonder what God thinks as He sees these people—His children.
In Genesis, at the very beginning, God created people and He cared for them. In today’s passage, it speaks about shedding the blood of humans. “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans let his blood be shed.” Now many people abuse and misunderstand the meaning of this passage without looking forward. It continues, “BECAUSE GOD MADE HUMANS IN HIS IMAGE REFLECTING GOD’S VERY NATURE.” God would rather no human blood is shed because life is precious. Each person matters. Each person is made in His image. So today as you walk through your day, as you see people on the street or at work that you might not speak to or look at—that you might ignore and think less of—today consider them as God would consider them. They are precious. Each and every one.
“Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans let his blood be shed,
Because God made humans in his image
reflecting God’s very nature.
You’re here to bear fruit, reproduce,
lavish life on the Earth, live bountifully!”
-Genesis 9:6-7 [MSG]