Paul's Advice to Timothy
6If you teach these things to other followers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus. You will show you have grown up on the teachings about our faith and on the good instructions you have obeyed. 7Don't have anything to do with worthless, senseless stories. Work hard to be truly religious. 8-9As the saying goes,
“Exercise is good
for your body,
but religion helps you
in every way.
It promises life
now and forever.”
These words are worthwhile and should not be forgotten. 10We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, but especially of those who have faith. This is why we work and struggle so hard.
11Teach these things and tell everyone to do what you say. 12Don't let anyone make fun of you, just because you are young. Set an example for other followers by what you say and do, as well as by your love, faith, and purity.
13Until I arrive, be sure to keep on reading the Scriptures in worship, and don't stop preaching and teaching. 14Use the gift you were given when the prophets spoke and the group of church leaders blessed you by placing their hands on you. 15Remember these things and think about them, so everyone can see how well you are doing. 16Be careful about the way you live and about what you teach. Keep on doing this, and you will save not only yourself, but the people who hear you.
It’s complicated to live as faithful followers of Jesus, speaking a language that engages the culture and addresses contemporary needs while remaining true to Jesus. Anybody can just go with the flow, adapting to culture while abandoning the lordship of Jesus. On the other hand, it’s easy to retreat into rules that cut ourselves off from the culture.
Sometimes we are going to feel under-resourced. Like Timothy, we will feel at times that other people seem to know more about life than we do. They might even mock our naivety (v 12). But in Jesus we have resources to live the truth. Living out love, faith and purity demonstrates that we know what life is about. Great arguments don’t always lead to good lives.
But words are important. Paul’s instruction encourages Timothy not to rely on his lifestyle to challenge the culture. It is God’s Word that will enable people to stand firm in the faith.
He is to make sure there is regular reading and reflection on God’s truth. The Scriptures will do their transforming work.
Timothy must learn that being a disciple of Jesus in an alien culture is going to be hard work (v 7). He’s gifted and he’s been commissioned (v 14) but neither guarantees an easy path ahead. There are massive issues at stake – how he lives and what he teaches will bring salvation, for himself and for others (v 16).
Our God and Father, you have given us hope through raising Jesus from the dead. I don’t want my life to be dictated by the trends of culture but by your truth and ultimate purpose. Use me in your loving purpose to tell everyone about Jesus, the Saviour. For his sake, Amen.