Dear God, help me not waste my time on fruitless endeavors. Rather, help me work hard and train myself for godliness. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read 1 Timothy 4
The Bible warns us that when the gospel is believed, God’s enemies work hard to deceive believers away from following Jesus. God’s enemies hate Jesus, they hate the gospel, and they hate any fruit that comes from following Jesus. Deception and falsehood are real possibilities that carry eternally grave consequences.
The most dangerous doctrinal deceptions are close enough to the original to look like the real thing, yet just different enough to ruin those who believe them. Paul already addressed false teaching that fails to yield tangible fruit. In this chapter, he discussed false teaching that emphasizes outward displays of religion, yet fails to flow from a sincere heart of worship and reverence.
This type of faith is false because it suggests God is only interested in superficial religious activity. But God is interested in heart change that overflows in good works. Further, the basis of God’s good pleasure toward us is Christ’s righteousness only, not actions we can perform. The point is this: when Christ is truly Lord, every aspect of our lives is affected. Even food is to be received with thankfulness—as an act of worship.
We shouldn’t waste our energy with speculations about religion and fruitless discussions (1:4; 4:7). Instead, we should help protect believers around us against the dangerous and inevitable onslaught of doctrinal deception. Paul says this act of service will help both ourselves and those around us, for we will be constantly “nourished” with the good teaching of the gospel (4:6).
One of the best ways we can help those around us is by being a godly example. This will require single-minded attention, which Paul describes as hard work! According to him, a disciplined life of godliness requires striving, teaching, exhorting, being exemplary, taking pains, being absorbed, and persevering.
But here’s the good news: If we labor like Paul described, we’ll have no energy left for speculative endeavors. So, let us be an example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity (1:5). By persevering in these good things, we can secure spiritual health for us and those around us.
1 Timothy 4:16
16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
There is a beneficial example in this passage of how believers can prioritize their time. If Timothy spent time on the things of God, he wouldn’t have time for trivial or useless matters. This can be a key lesson to learn in the life of a believer.
- How are you filling your time this very week with things that are empty in terms of eternal value? What could you do to be more intentional about how you spend your days?
- When is the last time you entered into a worthless debate about speculative things?
- Discuss with someone who knows you well: How hard do you strive to be an example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity? If you were completely absorbed in these things, how might your life look different?
- Keep a list today of things you are thankful for. Thank God for the blessings in your life you often overlook. When you thank Him for your food, be truly thankful!
- Now that you have prepared the “Read and Learn,” “Reflect and Change,” and “Go and Do” sections for your text, teach your text to your family or another group this week using this structure. Get feedback from them and adjust. [Teaching Simply]