Timothy’s critics had plenty to point out. His dad was probably an unbeliever. Timothy was young and fairly inexperienced. He didn’t quite fit in with the Jewish community.
Despite these obstacles, Timothy had God-given gifts. His mother and grandmother taught him about the Lord. Paul treated him like his own son. More than anything, he was given the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Paul encourages Pastor Timothy to persist, practice, teach, and set an example. He tells him to toil, strive, command, and watch. After all, the gift of faith is one to be used, exercised, and shared. But it’s more than that. Paul reminds Timothy that his God-given faith saves him and could influence the lives of others. This reminds us, too, that exercising our faith as believers is not only healthy for our own lives, but it also affects those around us.
Nevertheless, we should always be mindful of the word Paul uses: gift. Lowly Timothy with his eager detractors didn’t earn the Holy Spirit. Neither did we. It is by God’s grace that we may grow in His wisdom and share the news of our Savior. We need not fear our critics, failings, and shortcomings. The Lord equips us with what we need, and He forgives our faults through Christ, our Savior.
(Lord, thank You for giving Your saints the gift of faith. Enable us to treasure this gift and share it. Amen.)
"Faith does not dwell in our brain or in our thoughts. Faith is not a work which we accomplish; it is not a gift that we give to God. Being made righteous by faith does not imply that faith is some kind of payment that will serve as our almsgiving and good works. Is it not written that the kingdom of God belongs to those who are poor in spirit? Faith is, then, a poverty of spirit, a hunger and thirst, a poor, empty heart opening toward God so that He can put His grace into it. When God bestows His grace upon us, we are born anew and become partakers of the new life."
- Bo Giertz, The Hammer of God
1 Timothy 4:6-16
New International Version (NIV)
6 If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters,[a] you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.
11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
1 Timothy 4:6 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family.