Scripture: “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value godliness is of value in every way as it holds promise for the present life and for the life to come…Command and teach these things.
…(S)et the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, (and) in purity…Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, (and) to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have…
Practice these things. Immerse yourself in them so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this…” (Excerpts from 1 Tim 4:7-16)
Observation: The Holy Spirit through Scripture can cut to the chase, can’t He? Doesn’t mince words to Timothy. While instructing a young pastor in training, Paul’s words also have specific and meaningful implications to Believers at large.
Application: Being a Believer isn’t only a noun. There are verbs attached, implicit or explicit.
Scripture doesn’t give a confessing believer a pass allowing for lack of progress; there is an expectation of pursuing Godliness. I see in the above reference:
- Train yourself for godliness;
- Set an example in (and the list…)
- Devote yourself (oww!)
- Do not neglect the gift you have (been given)…
- Practice these things
- Immerse yourself in them
- Persist in this…
There is nothing implied in the above list. No gray area. These are overt directives from the Holy Spirit.
I am reminded of the Fruit of the Spirit list (Gal 5). I have seen a lot of posters, hangings, decorative items produced with the words of that List. The list I have above contains the operational actions to produce that Fruit—it is how the Fruit comes to being in my life.
There are two actions involved: the first one is the activity of God in my life; nothing can happen if He doesn’t empower me to do so. This is God’s Sovereignty and His promise is to empower. The second is the blood, sweat, and tears of my effort in pursuing Godliness. This is Human Responsibility.
His Sovereignty is found in the declarations and promises found in the Word of God. My Responsibility to grow and learn is also found in His Word. I need to rest in the first, gird myself for action in the second. This is not Justification by works—it is obedience to Him through Progressive Sanctification.
What is explicit in this section of Scripture is that successful growth is publically evident (…so that all may see your progress). Not something that gets talked about a lot but when I examine myself and I keep a close watch on myself and my teaching I should make that a check off on my personal discipline/growth plan. If my eyes are blind and I can’t tell then I should engage a second (or third plus) set of eyes.
What can I say? These are hard. Success in these doesn’t come easy because the Old Man fights hard against being driven out to be replaced by godliness. But the success to be aspired of is to put one foot in front of the other every day in pursuit of Him.
Prayer: Lord God, keep my eye singly on You. Help me to always take the long view and not be discouraged on daily failures. Continue to empower me to confess and repent frequently. AMEN.