Command and teach these things. Let no man despise your youth; but be an example to those who believe, in word, in your way of life, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity. Until I come, pay attention to reading, to exhortation, and to teaching. Donâ€™t neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the elders. Be diligent in these things. Give yourself wholly to them, that your progress may be revealed to all. Pay attention to yourself, and to your teaching. Continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. Â Â Â Â 1 Timothy 4:11-16 (WEB, my emphasis)
I hope you will take the time to read this Scripture again. If the translation here is a bit too unfamiliar, pull out your Bible and read it slowly and let it simmer in your spirit.
This is a passage that I have not read many times. I would say that I have read it only when I was encouraging a youth in their call. Paul told Timothy that all Scripture is useful. (2 Timothy 3:16) Silly me not to have got the all part! This Scripture is for me also.
I may not be considered â€œyouthâ€ but Godâ€™s words are also pointed to me. â€œLet no one despise your gender, Jody, or your age.â€ Nothing is an excuse (or prejudice) that keeps me from being an example in all facets of my life. The excuses of others can only impact the ministry that God has called me if I let them! Is there any aspect of my life not covered in the words â€œlove, spirit, faith, purityâ€? I canâ€™t think of one.
Then there is the strong admonition to â€œpay attentionâ€. Most of us have a teacher (or two or three) that has sharply spoken those words! What is to have my attention? What I read. What I am taught. And what strongly urges or warns me. I believe that means I am not only to â€œpay attentionâ€ as in understand and take in but also be careful what has my attention. Test the spirits, remember?
â€œBe diligentâ€ and â€œdo not neglectâ€ the gifts and opportunities that God has given me. If I waste His time and talents, He will withdraw them and give them to someone who will pay attention! I should be growing in my ministry. There should be progress. God does not expect me to stay in kindergarten and He surely will not put up with my crazy teen years in ministry! David Ravenhill wrote a wonderful book, For Godâ€™s Sake, Grow Up! (ISBN#1560432993 ) on that very subject.
A warning is clear to me: Have some Holy Fear about what you teach. Whatever is taught to me must go through Godâ€™s sifting and pass His test first and then I pass it along to someone else. I am responsible for what I teach. Itâ€™s power (or lack) may have eternal consequences in another life. Holy Fear…give that some thought today along with careless words. My witness to Jesus in my life.