“When am I ever going to use this stuff?”
That phrase is the rally cry of every student who has had their fill of theory and talk. I wondered it when I was a kid, and now my kids have asked it of me.
Earlier in his letter to Timothy, we observed that Paul made the connection between godliness and being like Jesus. There were three Jesus-like-ness observations we noted:
· Jesus knew the Scriptures – He quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Often during His teaching, Jesus would reference the Scriptures by saying “It is written” or asking the question “Have you not read?”
· Jesus was totally focused on His part in God’s plan and kingdom – He was on mission and would not be deterred. In John 6:38, He said “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
· Jesus knew both the Scriptures and His mission well enough that He could impact the lives of others – He cared for others, met them where they were, and pointed them toward God the Father.
Just a handful of verses after Paul made the connection between godliness and being like Jesus, he encouraged Timothy with these words:
1 Timothy 4:12-16
No one should despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, give your attention to public reading, exhortation, and teaching. Do not neglect the gift that is in you; it was given to you through prophecy, with the laying on of hands by the council of elders.
Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all. Be conscientious about yourself and your teaching; persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Paul’s instructions for Timothy match the three attributes of Jesus-like-ness we noted earlier. First, Paul told Timothy to know the Scriptures. Through his devotion to public reading, exhortation, and teaching, Timothy would be immersing himself in God’s Word.
Next, Paul urged Timothy to focus on his part in God’s plan and kingdom. While he was a unique combination of skills and experience, when you add in the gift given to him by God, Timothy was especially prepared for this work in Ephesus.
Lastly, Paul encouraged Timothy to practice these things; be committed to them…persevere in these things and his end result would be like Jesus’ – Timothy would know both the Scriptures and his mission well enough to impact the lives of others, or, as Paul put it, Timothy would save both himself and his hearers. Now Timothy could not add to Jesus’ finished work on the cross, so we know that Paul isn’t referring to an eternal salvation here. But then what would Timothy be saving them all from?
A few verses back, right after equating godliness with being like Jesus, Paul warned:
1 Timothy 4:1
Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons
As Timothy applies what he’s learned from Paul, as he endeavors to be like Jesus – then he, too, will have the opportunity to save both himself and his hearers from the pitfalls of false teachings. What a great rescue mission!
What could we do if we also imitate Jesus by knowing the Scriptures and using our God-given gifts? What kind of rescuing could we do? Will we trust God and find out?