Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite,
awoke one morning in 1888 to read his own obituary!
Actually, his brother had died, but a reporter carelessly
took it to be Alfred's death. The obituary called him
“the dynamite king” and explained how he had made an immense
fortune from his explosives. Not one of his more noble
intentions and uses for dynamite was recorded. This
obituary had painted him to be a merchant of death. As
Alfred read this obituary, he resolved that he would make
clear that destruction had not been the true purpose of his
life. In his will, he established a fund where cash
prizes would be awarded to those who had done the most for
the cause of world peace—the Nobel Peace Prize. How
would your obituary read if you had seen it this morning?
For what would your life be known? How would you be
remembered? How would you influence be described
(Raines in Swindoll)? In the letter of 1 Timothy, we
discover that the church in Ephesus has been in chaos.
Paul hopes to come soon to help the church get back on its
feet, but until he can arrive, he writes this letter to help
Timothy and the members there know how to conduct themselves
and to carry on. He gives instructions about avoiding
the heretics, former church leaders who have shipwrecked
their faith, about salvation (which is for all and not just
for those with special knowledge), about lifestyle (a
peaceful, evangelistic, and spiritual one that all members
should display), about good church leadership (providing
qualifications for elders and deacons), about essential
truths that can't be compromised (Jesus' incarnation, His
resurrection, His ascension, His Gospel, His church, and His
glorification), and about the false teachings of the
heretics (who were forbidding marriage and eating certain
foods). The rest of the letter has more instructions
on how Timothy and members should conduct themselves.
In fact, the next section of the letter has some advice
specifically for Timothy as an evangelist. The advice
given, however, could be made applicable for all Christians.
So let's look at some more commands that start in 1 Timothy
The first command is this: Be an example to other believers
(4:12)! Look at verse 12: “Let now one despise your
youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in
conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
“Regardless of our age, members shouldn't be looking down on
us because we should be living a life that is an example to
other believers” (Monck). Paul says that this example should
play out in almost every way you can imagine: our word or
our speech, our conduct or our behavior, our love or our
affections, our spirit or our desires, our faith or our
trust, and our purity or our morality. As members, we
are to be examples to other believers. Paul has set
the bar high for us. We are to live in such an
exemplary way that others can imitate us as we model
Christianity! You never know who is watching you and
upon whom you are having an influence. Be an example
to other believers!
The next command is: Read the Bible. Verse 13 states: “Till
I come, give attention to reading.” Paul wanted
Timothy to read the Old Testament and the apostles' writings
to the members when they were at church. There weren't many
copies of God's Word in those days. We now have both
Old and New Testaments in printed editions that we can
readily purchase. Are you reading your Bible daily?
From our reading report sheets posted in the foyer, it looks
like almost 65% of this audience is not reading your Bible
[or if you are, you have not reported it]. The living
God over the entire universe has revealed to us His will,
His commands, and His desires. Knowing these precepts
can enrich our lives and help us to live abundantly!
Who is a blessed person? Psalm 1:2 answers that it the
person who delights in God's word and who continually thinks
about it! If you can't read alone, have you tried
having a reading partner? Read the Bible to enrich
The next command is this: Learn to exhort and to teach!
Paul is telling Timothy to give attention to his preaching
the Gospel and teaching healthy doctrine. Look at
Acts13:14-15: “But when they departed from Perga, the came
to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the
Sabbath Day and sat down. And after the reading of the Law
and the Prophets, the rulers of synagogue sent to them
saying, 'Men and brethren, if you have any word of
exhortation for the people, say on.'” And following this
invitation, Paul then preaches the Gospel. You see,
reading the Scriptures and exhortation or preaching were
elements of the synagogue worship that Paul wanted to see
become parts of Christian worship. Now look at
Colossians 1:28 where Paul shows his life's aim: “Him we
preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all
wisdom, that we may present every man perfect [or mature] in
Christ Jesus.” How about this for a vision for this
congregation: “Every member helping every member by
exhorting and teaching to become a strong disciple of Jesus!
Every member helping every member by exhorting and teaching
to become a strong disciple of Jesus!” Learn to exhort
and to teach!
The next command is: Use your talents to help the church!
Paul commands Timothy in verse 14: “Do not neglect the gift
that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the
laying on of the hands of the eldership.” Now Timothy
had some sort of miraculous gift that Paul wanted him to
utilize in his work as the evangelist there at Ephesus.
Since the age of miracles has ceased according to 1
Corinthians 13:8-10, we no longer have spiritual gifts like
Timothy did. But we do have natural talents with which
God has blessed us. So let's try to utilize our talent
to help the church. Lynn utilizes his singing skills
to enrich our worship services. Johnnie has used his
electronic skills to set up a computer for our literacy
program (by the way, if you know anyone who would like help
in learning to read, let me know). Perry uses his
video skills to record our sermons, which KTSS then
broadcasts. Now for some of you, it may take a little
creative thinking on your part, but the church has so many
needs and so many ministries which can be a blessing to
others that you can probably find a way that your talents
can be utilized to help the church. If you need help here,
drop by the office sometime, and we can talk about it.
Use your talents to help the church!
The next command is: Think about your service (4:15)!
The first part of verse 15 is a command: “Meditate on these
things!” Paul is exhorting Timothy to slow down and do
some serious thinking about the commands that he is asking
him to put into practice. Someone made this good
observation: “There are four kinds of leaders: the pleaser
focuses on the people involved; the dreamer focuses on
creativity; the director focuses on the job; the thinker
focuses on the results” (Dick). Think about your
service. Slow down and do some self-evaluation: “What
am I doing to please God? How am I spreading the
Gospel? How am I making a difference in another's
life? How am I helping to strengthen this
congregation? What legacy will be left behind after my
death?” Like Mr. Nobel, if you read your own bleak obituary
today, would there be some changes you'd like to make with
how you will be remembered? “For I say, through the
grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to
think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to
think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of
faith” (Romans 12:3). Think about your service!
The next command is: Be a diligent servant! Paul
orders Timothy in verse 15: “Give yourself entirely to them,
that your progress may be evident to all.” Here's how
some other versions read: “Give all your energies to these
things” (Phillips)! “Immerse yourself in them”
(Message)! “Throw yourself into these tasks” (New
Living)! If Timothy will work diligently, the
congregation in Ephesus will notice it, and they view him as
a worthy evangelist (Kelly). Are we being diligent
servants? Do others see us progressing, growing, and
maturing as a Christian? There was once a Hispanic
young man who had dyslexia, dropped out of high school, and
moved to Mexico. Someone taught him to read, and a
book by John Steinbeck changed to whole course of his life.
He wanted to become a writer. He thought of plots, he
read more than 5000 books, he wrote 9 novels, 65 short
stories, and 10 plays, and all were rejected by publishers.
After 260 rejections, his first novel was published, and
then more and more works were published. Now many High
Schools use one of books to help their students learn about
Hispanic culture. Did you notice that he kept writing
even after hundreds of rejections? Now that's
diligence! Will we work as hard to become mature
disciples as this person worked to become a writer?
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not
to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the
reward of the inheritance, for you serve the Lord Christ”
(Colossians 3:23-24)! Be a diligent servant!
The next command is: Take a spiritual inventory! Paul
admonishes Timothy in verse 16: “Take heed to yourself.”
Or this could be translated: “Give attention, watch, or take
pains with yourself.” Paul is wanting Timothy to take
stock of his faith, of his example, and of his work as a
minister. That same idea involves each member looking
inward and examining and evaluating himself or herself.
Again, slow down some and make the time to take a spiritual
inventory. Some of the questions that you might ask
yourself are the following: Is my faith stronger or weaker
now than it was six months ago? Is my love for Jesus
stronger or weaker than it was six months ago? How
much time am I spending in Bible reading, in prayer, and in
service to others? How often do I think about other
members and their needs? How well am I attending Bible
classes and worship services? How well am I bringing
up my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
How generous am I in my giving to the church? How many
people have I tried to influence with the Gospel? What
are my spiritual strengths and weakness? What sins
must I continue to work on in order to overcome? How
well am I fighting the good fight and running the Christian
race? Have you ever thought about talking about your
spiritual growth with someone else in the congregation?
Take a spiritual inventory!
The next command is: Stay with the doctrine! Paul
encourages Timothy in verse 16: “Take heed to yourself and
to the doctrine!” A more literal translation would be:
“Given attention to the teaching!” The teaching, of
course, refers to the inspired teachings of the Jesus and
the apostles. Have any of you ever heard of “the emergent
church”? It is called this because its teachings are
not fixed but continually emerging. You see, a person
in the emergent church does not use the Bible to teach the
truth. He uses the Bible to propose another opinion.
After all opinions of the participants have been mixed
together, that consensus becomes the truth for that
encounter. It is a truth that is always subject to
change and can never be absolute. This is the way the
emergent church approaches our postmodern culture which has
already written off any absolute truth. You can see
very quickly that sinful behaviors, eternal punishment, and
Jesus as the only Savior cannot be defended by the emergent
church since these things would be too offensive. Want
a nice word to summarize the emergent church's approach:
c-o-m-p-r-o-m-i-s-e. Take a stand for the truth and
stay with the doctrine!
The next command is: Keep promoting healthy teaching!
The last words of Paul in chapter 4 are: “Continue in them,
for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who
hear you.” Paul is encouraging Timothy and us to stick
to the previous commands and the inspired healthy teachings
of the Gospel. This sounds much like Hebrews 2:1:
“Therefore we must give the more earnest to the things which
we have heard, lest we drift away.” Why are there
these encouragements and warnings if once a person is saved,
and then they always remain saved? If we will keep
promoting healthy teaching, we and those we teach will reap
The next command is this: Treat fellow Christians as family!
Notice Paul's instructions in the first verses of chapter 5:
“Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father,
younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger
women as sisters, with all purity.” We have already
seen how Paul calls the church the household or family of
the living God (3:15). In a family, parents are to be
respected and honored, and this is how Timothy is to treat
the older members. In a family, brothers and sisters
are treated as equals, and this is how Timothy is to treat
the younger members. And he should especially keep
himself pure with the young women. We should treat
each other with respect, honor, equality, purity, and love.
Treat fellow Christians as family!
Be an example to other believers and read your Bible!
Learn to exhort and to teach, and use your talents to help
the church! Think about your service, and be a
diligent servant! Take a spiritual inventory, and stay
with the doctrine! Keep promoting healthy teaching,
and treat each other like family! A tombstone has a
birth date and a death date and a dash between the two.
How will the dash in your life be remembered? Don't you want
to be remembered as an active, faithful, and devoted
Christian? Become a Christian by putting on Christ in
baptism or ask Jesus to help you to be a better disciple!
Nobel changed his legacy, and you can change yours beginning
right now! Jesus offers an abundant life both here and
in the hereafter! Accept His offer!