How To Be a Man of God: Part 3 (1 Timothy 4)

How To Be a Man of God: Part 3 (1 Timothy 4)

Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr. Sermons, Devotions, and Bible Commentary

Welcome back to our series in 1 Timothy! Today, we will be looking at the final section of chapter 4, where the Apostle Paul gives instructions for church leaders (if you missed Part 1 and Part 2, I encourage you to read them now).

A Growing Minister Progresses in the Word (1 Tim. 4:13–16)

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

The key thought in this section is “that your progress will be evident to all” (v. 15). The word progress is a Greek military term; it means “pioneer advance.” It describes the soldiers who go ahead of the troops, clear away the obstacles, and make it possible for others to follow. As a godly pastor, Timothy was to grow spiritually, so the whole church could see his spiritual progress and imitate it.

No pastor can lead his people where he has not been himself. The pastor (or church member) who is not growing is actually going backward, for it is impossible to stand still in the Christian life. In his living, teaching, preaching, and leading the minister must give evidence of spiritual growth. But what factors make spiritual progress possible?

Emphasize God’s Word (v. 13). “Devote yourself” means “be absorbed in.” Ministering the Word was not something Timothy was to do in his spare time, after he had done other things; it was to be the most important thing he did. Reading means the public reading of Scripture in the local assembly. The Jewish people always had the reading of the Law and the Prophets in their synagogues, and this practice carried over into Christian churches. Jesus read the Scriptures in the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:16) and Paul often read the lessons when he visited a synagogue (Acts 13:15).

In my travelling ministry, I have noticed many churches have dispensed with the public reading of God’s Word and I am disappointed. They have time for “special music” and endless announcements, but there is no time for the reading of the Bible (the pastor may read a text before he preaches, but that is a different thing). Every local church ought to have a schedule of Bible readings for the public services. It is commanded by God in Scripture that we read His Word in the public assemblies. (I might add those who read the Word publicly ought to prepare themselves privately. Nobody should be asked “at the last minute” to read the Scriptures publicly. The Bible deserves the best we can give.)

Exhortation (v. 13). This literally means “encouragement” and suggests the applying of the Word to the lives of the people. The pastor was to read the Word, explain it, and apply it.

Doctrine (v. 13). This means “teaching” and is a major emphasis in the pastoral letters. There are at least twenty-two references to “teaching” or “doctrine” in these thirteen chapters. “Apt to teach” is one of the qualifications of a minister (1 Tim. 3:2); and it has been correctly said, “Apt to teach implies apt to learn.” A growing minister (or church member) must be a student of the Word. Before he teaches others, he must teach himself (Rom. 2:21). His spiritual progress is an example to his flock and an encouragement to others.

Use your spiritual gifts (v. 14). So much has been written in recent years about spiritual gifts that we have almost forgotten the graces (“fruits”) of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23). The word gift is the Greek word charisma. It simply means “a gracious gift from God.” (The world uses the word charisma to describe a person with magnetic personality and commanding appearance.) Every Christian has the gift of the Spirit (Rom. 8:9) and at least one gift from the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:1–11). The gift of the Spirit and the gifts from the Spirit are bestowed by God at the moment of conversion.

However, when God calls a believer into a special place of ministry, He can (and often does) impart a spiritual gift for that task. When Timothy was ordained by the elders, he received an enabling gift from God. But for some reason, Timothy had neglected to cultivate this gift which was so necessary to his spiritual progress and ministry. In fact, Paul had to admonish him in his second letter: “Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Tim. 1:6).

It is encouraging to know the God who calls us also equips us to do His work. We have nothing in ourselves that enables us to serve Him; the ministry must all come from God (1 Cor. 15:9–10; Phil. 4:13; 1 Tim. 1:12). However, we must not be passive; we must cultivate God’s gifts, use them, and develop them wherever God puts us.

Devote yourself fully to Christ (v. 15). Timothy’s spiritual life and ministry were to be the absorbing, controlling things in his life, not merely sidelines that he occasionally practiced. There can be no real pioneer advance in one’s ministry without total dedication to the task. “No man can serve two masters” (Matt. 6:24).

While I do not want to sound critical, I must confess I am disturbed by the fact that too many pastors and Christian workers divide their time and interest between the church and some sideline activity. It may be real estate, trips to the Holy Land, politics, civic duties, even denominational service. Their own spiritual lives suffer and their churches suffer because these men are not devoting themselves wholly to their ministry. “This one thing I do” was Paul’s controlling motive and it ought to be ours too (Phil. 3:13). “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8).

Take spiritual inventory (v. 16). Examine your own heart in the light of the Word of God. A servant of God can be so busy helping others that he neglects himself and his own spiritual walk. The building up of the saved and the winning of the lost are the purposes for our ministry, to the glory of God. But God must work in us before He can effectively work through us (Phil. 2:12–13). As good ministers, we preach the Word; as godly ministers, we practice the Word; as growing ministers, we progress in the Word.

To Think About and Discuss

1. Paul commanded Timothy to “devote [himself] to the public reading of Scripture.” What does God expect from those of us who are being taught from His Word?

2. How is the reality of personal salvation demonstrated in our lives?

3. It has been said, “The great purpose of life is the shaping of character by truth.” How does this apply to you?

Diligence

Diligence

Posted on January 29, 2014 by Universal Life Church Monastery

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“He who labors diligently need never despair; for all things are accomplished by diligence and labor.” – Menander

Diligence refers to careful and persistent work or effort. The diligent carry a zealous yet careful nature in their actions. They have a decisive work ethic, are steadfast in their beliefs, uphold their convictions at all times (especially when no one is looking) and do not easily give up. Diligence is the virtue of hard work, and is indicative of a belief that work in itself is good.

Diligence in Hinduism

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“Who so performeth – diligent, content – the work allotted him, whatever it be, lays hold of perfectness!”
-The Bhagavad Gita 18:45

Diligence is closely aligned with the concept of work. Work is the staple of human life: when we are idle, we become irritable, when we retire we decline. Work is important in Hinduism because it is one of the four paths to God.

This path is called the karma yoga. It asserts that one does not need to retire to a cloister to find God. God can be found in the world of everyday affairs just as readily as anywhere else. How this is done depends on the worker’s nature, and whether the yogi approaches work intellectually (Jana) or in the spirit of love (Bhakti). Keep in mind that the main goal of Hinduism is to transcend the limits of the finite self.

First, let us look at the Bhakti yoga. These are people who bring their ardent and affectionate nature to their work. They work for God and for others, not for themselves. Acts are no longer performed for their personal reward, they are performed as service to God. The person is merely a channel through which the love and will of God are carried out.

An example of Bhakti yoga would be a person mowing and taking care their elderly neighbors yard as well as their own. However this person does not tell their neighbor, for this would foil the point. Instead, she does the extra work with no thought of seeking recognition. Doing so would inflate the ego. In this sense, Bhakti yoga is closely aligned with humility.

The Jana approach to work is more intellectual than emotional. It might help to think of Bhakti as a pastor and Jana as a philosopher. For the Jana, work is done unselfishly, but the approach is slightly different, since they see the world differently than the Bhakti. To the Jana, the idea of an infinite being at the center of one’s self is more meaningful than the idea of a divine author who created and watches over the world with love.

The Jana believe the way to enlightenment is work done in detachment from the empirical self. This involves drawing a line between the “finite” self that performs acts, and the “eternal” self that observes the action. It may help to think of it in terms of body and soul. People most often approach work in terms of what it will bring their body, or finite self. Examples are the money or glory work will bring. But doing working towards these ends only tightens the chains on the ego cage.

The Jana decided that work should be done in a state of detached presence. The worker performs his duties in identification of the eternal, but since the acts are being performed by the empirical, finite self, the true self has nothing to do with them. This is a difficult concept to grasp, but such is the nature of the Jana.

Both the affectionate (Bhakti) and the philosophical (Jana) framework strive to starve the ego by depriving it of the consequences, good and bad, upon which it feeds. For the Hindu, diligence goes beyond careful and persistent labor: it is the way to escape the limits of the self to achieve enlightenment.

Diligence in Christianity

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
-Galatians 6:9

Unlike the Hindu Karma Yogas, Christians do not believe they can obtain salvation through diligence. In Christianity salvation comes from the grace and mercy of God through Christ, it cannot be earned. This does not mean diligence has no place in Christianity; it is key to the Christian path.

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Christian diligence begins with faith and is manifested through love. God provided us His word in order that we may come to know him, and through diligence we can fulfill His purpose in our lives. The apostle Peter advises us the importance of diligence as we mature in Christ, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge.” (2 Peter 1:5) It begins with faith, then virtue and knowledge are obtained through diligence.

If the Bible is our path to God, we can turn to the it to understand the role of diligence in the Christian life. The book of Proverbs has many precepts about it, “Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich.”; “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, But the soul of the diligent is made fat.” (Proverbs 12:24, 13:4)

Returning to second Peter, we read, “be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.” These “things” Peter speaks of are faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, kindness, and charity. They are the fruit that comes from faith and a sign that that faith is alive and vibrant. These things must be earned through diligence.

The parable of the five golden talents is a good example of Christian diligence. The story shows how we should be productive with the talents that God has provided. In the parable, the master gives each of his servants a number of golden talents. It was not said, but all the servants knew that they were expected to increase their talents while the lord was gone. When he returned, he rewarded the servants who were productive and increased their talents, “His lord said unto him, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.’” (Matthew 25:21)

The golden talents represent the blessings God has given to his children. During this life we are expected to use these things responsibly to increase our virtue, faith, and to help others increase their own. When the Lord comes again, those who were diligent with their talents will be rewarded.

Diligence in Buddhism

“Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence.”
-Buddha

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Diligence is one of the points on the Noble Eightfold Path. Right Effort, also called Right Work, involves training and exerting oneself to develop wholesome qualities. The Buddha taught that there are four aspects to Right Effort:

1. The effort to prevent unhealthy qualities- greed, anger, lust, sloth, etc.- from developing.
2. The effort to destroy unhealthy qualities that have already manifested.
3.The effort to cultivate wholesome qualities- generosity, love, kindness, wisdom, etc.- that have not yet been developed.
4. The effort the strengthen wholesome qualities that have already arisen.

Effort is key to this whole process. But the Buddha wouldn’t want us to think that Right Effort just means practicing hard, it means simply practicing right. (Remember the Middle Way, the path between extremes.) Practicing this should be like playing a well-tuned instrument. Strings that are too loose won’t make a sound, but if they are too tight they will break. Thich Nhat Hahn, a Zen teacher, once said, “The Fourfold Right Diligence is nourished by joy and interest. If your practice does not bring you joy, you are not practicing correctly.”

However, this does not mean diligence will be always be easy and fun. Sometimes it will be difficult and tiresome. Buddha taught that in these situations we should follow the ox’s example. The ox marches through the deep mire carrying a heavy load. He is tired, but keeps a steady gaze forward, and will not relax until he comes out of the mire. It is only then he takes a respite. The mire is sin, passion, desire, sloth, and ill will. This can only be escaped by earnestly and steadily working out of them.

How to be Diligent

Today’s world is fast-paced and filled with obstacles and distractions. Technology meant to make life easier and more connected has ironically made it more complicated and nuanced. With all this swirling around, staying committed to a task requires focus. Most of us could benefit from increasing our diligence. Here are a few ways to do so:

Create Goals. When you get into a car, you most likely have a destination in mind. If not, you will just drive around aimlessly. The same goes for goals: they are needed to give us a direction. Accomplishing smaller goals will give you confidence and the experience will enable you to better tackle larger, long-term goals. Track your progress along the way and make note of your achievements

Create Standards. Think of problem areas in your life and set a standard to which you will not go below. Sometimes it’s difficult to correct unpleasant habits, but this is necessary to build confidence. It can help to pick a role model to emulate to keep your mind focused.

Stay Positive. A positive attitude goes a long way. It’s easier to stick to your ultimate intentions when you get rid of negativity and pessimism. Keep your eyes on the goal, and like the Buddha taught, follow the example of the ox.

Release Stress.Find positive outlets to release stress and doubts. Releasing stress in constructive ways is important because it will further your goals while allowing you to release and recharge. Examples of such activities include working out, cooking, dancing, drawing, video gaming, carpentry, traveling, mountain climbing, writing, basket-weaving, etc.

By:
Lewis F.

Envy

Original Article
Posted on March 13, 2014 by Universal Life Church Monastery

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Along the journey of our life we encounter people who appear to have better lives than we do. Perhaps they have more money, a more lucrative career, or a higher socioeconomic status. If we compare ourselves with them we may grow discontent about our own stations and desirous of the possessions of others.

Envy is characterized by desire, along with gluttony, lust, and greed. Envy and jealousy are similar but envy is a more intense manifestation. Both involve discontent with one’s own traits, status, or possessions.

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Envy and jealousy are bad qualities, especially for one who has a relationship with Christ. Being envious of others, especially those who reject Christianity, indicates that one does not fully understand what it means to be a child of God. Wealth, fame, and power in this world cannot compare to the riches in the kingdom of heaven, ”for what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”(Mark 8:36).

This wisdom is emphasized again in Psalm 37:1,2: “Do not fret because of those who are evil, or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.”

Up to this point we have considered what envy really is, and it’s relationship with jealousy and the other vices. We also touched on why Christians in particular should avoid being envious. Next we will look at more Biblical teaching about envy, and ways we can use this wisdom to prevent envy from creeping into our hearts.

What the Bible says about Envy

As a capital vice, envy leads to additional sinful behavior. Left unchecked, envy can lead to disastrous results, “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:2-3) This is not to say that envious thoughts or behavior will drive us to steal, fight, or murder, but the danger is still there. It is nevertheless a step in that direction.

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Along the journey of our life we encounter people who appear to have better lives than we do. Perhaps they have more money, a more lucrative career, or a higher socioeconomic status. If we compare ourselves with them we may grow discontent about our own stations and desirous of the possessions of others.

Envy is characterized by desire, along with gluttony, lust, and greed. Envy and jealousy are similar but envy is a more intense manifestation. Both involve discontent with one’s own traits, status, or possessions.

As gluttony is the desire for food, lust the desire for sexual pleasure, and greed the desire for wealth, envy is a desire for the possessions of another. However, it is not only the desire for these things, but also a deep negative feeling over another’s achievements. To envy is to resent somebody else’s good so much that one would like to see it destroyed.

Envy and jealousy are bad qualities, especially for one who has a relationship with Christ. Being envious of others, especially those who reject Christianity, indicates that one does not fully understand what it means to be a child of God. Wealth, fame, and power in this world cannot compare to the riches in the kingdom of heaven, ”for what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”(Mark 8:36).

This wisdom is emphasized again in Psalm 37:1,2: “Do not fret because of those who are evil, or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.”

Up to this point we have considered what envy really is, and it’s relationship with jealousy and the other vices. We also touched on why Christians in particular should avoid being envious. Next we will look at more Biblical teaching about envy, and ways we can use this wisdom to prevent envy from creeping into our hearts.

What the Bible says about Envy

As a capital vice, envy leads to additional sinful behavior. Left unchecked, envy can lead to disastrous results, “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:2-3) This is not to say that envious thoughts or behavior will drive us to steal, fight, or murder, but the danger is still there. It is nevertheless a step in that direction.

The Ten Commandments tell us directly that we shall not be envious, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Ex.20:17).

Consider the story of Cain and Abel. The sons of Adam and Eve brought offerings to the Lord. Cain brought the Lord an offering of fruit from the earth and Abel brought the firstborn from his flock. The Lord favors Abel’s sacrifice, and gives Can some stern instruction. Later on Cain leads Abel to the fields, where he murders him. Envy, along with anger, is thought to be the motivation behind Cain murdering his brother. Even though Cain and Abel lived thousands of years ago, the heart of man has not changed.

God may choose to bless a person with wealth, intellect, or a good personality. However, some become envious, even bitter towards this person. Why? Because they have been given many good things. What if this was your brother or sister, or mother or father? Wouldn’t you rejoice in the blessings given to them? If you can’t revel in the goodness of God, then there is something wrong in your heart. Similarly, if you cannot weep with a man who loses everything, there is something wrong in your heart.

Christians of all people should rejoice when God pours forth His goodness on others because Christians know that God first poured out mercy and goodness to them while they were still a slave to their sin.

Worldly wisdom might say that envy is a good thing. While envy can inspire us to work and be ambitious so that we can obtain the things we desire, this is false wisdom that the Bible warns us of, “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” (James 3:14,15)

Overcoming Envy

Because of man’s fallen nature, we cannot forever escape feelings of envy, but we can fight against it. Envy is destroyed by love, kindness, and being content with what has been given us: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Rm. 12:15) In the game of Chess there are kings and queens, knights and bishops and rooks, and then there are pawns. Each piece has a function, a purpose in the game. Each piece, by it’s own means, can secure a checkmate. Similarly, God has assigned us roles in life, and given us the gifts and abilities to fulfill these roles:

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For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. -Romans 12:4-8

From this passage we can discern why envy has no place in a Christian heart. There is honor in each role, and each role has a purpose in the whole. Sometimes our roles change, or turn out to be something we did not expect. But all along the way, God is with us.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”
– I Corinthians 12:4-6

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