International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday March 20, 2011
Purpose: To rediscover the holy habits and godly practices that builds Christian character and prepares us for faithful leadership in the church
Scripture Text: I Timothy 4:6-16 (NRSV)
I Timothy 4:6-16
(6)If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed. (7)Have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives’ tales. Train yourself in godliness,(8)for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (9)The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. (10)For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.(11)These are the things you must insist on and teach. (12)Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (13)Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching. (14)Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. (15)Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. (16)Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Today some of the most popular books and articles we choose to read are about “self- help.” As Christians it is important to know the difference between holy habits and godly practices, versus the more popular “self-help” way to get God's attention. The desire and ability to achieve a spiritual life of practice and discipline comes as a means of grace, (comes from God) not as a task to accomplish, or instructions to follow.
Paul is explaining to Timothy and to us, that unlike those that are talked about in verse 1 of this chapter, which are “paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron.” These have departed from the faith. As Christian we should instead receive our nourishment from the “words of faith” and “good doctrine.” Today's Christians should not fall into the same trap as Eve in the garden and accept a half-truth from a “deceitful spirit” “Did God really say?” (See Gen. 3:1)
Paul tells Timothy to reject the easy way and quick fix that he may have heard about; instead, we need to exercise ourselves to godliness. As you watch the television advertisements for losing weight most are trying to sell you an easy quick fix, a pill, you can take, when the truth is, it takes discipline and work (exercise) to accomplish the weight loss. Paul even says “while exercise has some value for a time, eventually we will all face the reality of death, better we should concentrate on godliness, because it will last us for all of eternity” (my paraphrase and amplification)
Why should we “toil and struggle”? It is because we have been redeemed by God, through the work of Jesus the Christ, His only begotten Son. God has made this available to the entire world, but it is important that we believe and exercise our faith, in this truth. Just because His Son died for the entire world does not mean the whole world has accepted Him.
There are several things we can do in our Christian walk to help us understand what God wants from us. According to Paul we should be aware of five things; our words, our deeds, our love, our faith, and our purity. Understand that neither none of these or all of these can redeem us. These are God's expectations from us if we love Him, and accept His gift.
Maybe this can best be illustrated in marriage. If when we get married, we no longer put in the work necessary for a happy marriage, the chances are that the marriage will fail. Likewise, if we toil for the sake of the marriage, we have the opportunity to reap great rewards for the effort we put into the relationship. It has often been said when we are young and in love, “love is blind.” We can accept all of the little flaws. But with marriage our sight improves, and all of sudden what we thought was cute and eccentric now drive us crazy. Getting through that, takes both works and grace.
Timothy is encouraged to read, exhort, and teach Gods word, which is what God has called him to do. This is not a call to practice sometime during the year, but rather a habit that should be established. We are to do this on a regular basis.
How committed are you to a life of holiness and goodness? How often do you exercise and practice your faith?