Friday, May 02, 2014

Avoid distractions - 1st Timothy 4:6-10

"In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers." (1 Timothy 4:6-10)
Paul had left Timothy behind to remind the people of what they needed to do and how they should conform their behavior to the image and nature of Christ. Sometimes, after we have come to Christ, we begin to feel good about ourselves and we forget to continue in discipline and faith. It is like a sick person who goes to the doctor and is prescribed some drugs to heal them of their sickness. After a few days, when they feel better, they stop taking their medicine only to relapse once again in to their former sickness. The same is true of us. We can get to the point where we enjoy the moment and forget the "work" of the Kingdom that Christ has called us to. The word used here for "pointing out" can also be translated "to hazard," in other words, to warn the believers in Ephesus of the dangers of this life should they ever find themselves drifting away from the faith.

This call to remember, to realize the hazards of this life, reminds me of when everyone was marveling and celebrating the miracles that Jesus was doing. While everyone was cheering, Jesus turned to His disciples and said, "Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men." (Luke 9:44) Jesus was warning them not to let their celebration of life distract them from the truth of the path they were on. It was good for them to celebrate what Jesus was doing, but they must also remember the realities of where they were headed. Difficult times were coming and they had to prepare themselves lest they fall away through scandal and disappointment of the coming days.

Paul also reminds Timothy why we "discipline my [our] body and make it my [our] slave." (1 Corinthians 9:27) This is because of the hope we have for the life to come. If our concern is only for this life the we most certainly should, "eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die." (Isaiah 22:13) But if we are living for a life yet to come then we have reason to discipline our lives and to live in such a way as to win the race and the life yet to come. The prize is certainly worth the price. However, how does one "Run in such a way that you may win"? (1 Corinthians 9:24)

First, Paul tells us that we should be continually nourished by the words and teachings of the faith. It is not enough just to be saved, but we must grow in our salvation; to become strong in the faith and able to stand the trials and temptations that come our way. Jesus said of His own words, "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4) And, "the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." (John 6:63) We cannot afford to neglect the Word of God for it is our strength and our life.

Secondly, Paul says that we must not pay attention to "worldly fables." Some people are so easily distracted with "the latest thing." Some new philosophy  comes by and they run to to see what it is. They are always searching but never finding. Jesus warned us of the coming Antichrists saying, "So if they say to you, 'Behold, He is in the wilderness,' do not go out, or, 'Behold, He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe them. For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be." (Matthew 24:26-27) We must be careful not to be distracted by those things that are of little importance and to rather devote our lives to the things that are eternal.

Finally, Paul instructs us to discipline ourselves for godliness. If we run after the world, to be like the world and to enjoy the world, we will get the world's outcome. However, if we run after Christ and His Kingdom, to discipline ourselves for it, then we will reap the rewards of the Kingdom and our inheritance will be in Him. There are many ways we can discipline our lives: physically, financially, emotionally, mentally, etc. All these things are important, but it is our discipline for godliness that reaps eternal rewards. To do the others and leave this undone is to come short of all Jesus has for us in His kingdom. Godliness, above all, should be our aim and the goal of our lives. Jesus promised, "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33) If we seek lesser things then lesser things we shall receive, but if we seek the Kingdom, then all things shall become ours.

David Robison

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