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Thursday 15 September 2022

Building Into The Lives Of Others

Paul the Apostle had a strong fellowship with the man Titus and also Timothy. We learn from his mentorship of both of these men, how we too should be seeking to extend the family of the faith, especially by building into the lives of others.

Timothy – We are going to look at some application from these Titus passages soon, but first, let’s look at what Paul did with Timothy. We do not know how Paul brought Titus into the fold, but we do know how he brought in Timothy, and so I think looking at what he did with Timothy can help us understand how Paul worked. Acts 16:1-5 tells us, “16 Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.”

So, Paul had not brought Timothy to the faith, this passage and others show us that it was Timothy’s mother that brough him to the faith. But Paul saw something of real note in Timothy, he saw in him a helper, a partner, and the potential to be a leader.

But even though Timothy was a disciple when Paul first encountered him, because of his close fellowship across his life with Timothy, he still considered him to be his child in the faith, “14 I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church” (1 Cor. 4:14-17).

Paul forged such a fellowship with him, and mentoring role, that he came to consider him as his child in the faith, just as he viewed the Corinthians to whom he brought the gospel. So, what did this fellowship and mentoring role that Paul had with Timothy look like?

Paul took a strong interest in stewarding the gifts that he saw in Timothy, 1 Timothy 1:18-19 – “18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith…” At some point a council of elders had spoken a powerful prophecy over Paul’s life. Paul made sure that he gave Timothy every opportunity to “wage good warfare” with this gift.

He made sure that Timothy knew the importance of holding the faith and having a good conscience. These two things are vital for a Christian life.

We are saved by faith, and because of this some people foolishly think that we can just sin freely, as we see fit, and God will forgive us. But if we do this, we will not be able to live in peace with ourselves, and with others, nor with God. Our consciences’ will be burdened. 

However, if you live in such a way that your conscience is clear, you have every opportunity to make use of the good gifts that God has given you. Many leaders and Christians fall down not on the first thing, but the second thing. They may proclaim all the faith in the world, but they live in such a way that their conscience tears them down. By that I mean they condemn themselves with their actions, and diminish their ability to minister to others, or even fall away. Which is exactly how Paul applies this, “By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith…”

He took a strong interest in making sure that Timothy knew where he should focus most of his efforts, “6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:6-8).

He made sure that Timothy knew where he should focus his ministry, on the clear teachings of scripture, and not on speculative theories. He made sure that Timothy knew that spiritual training was of the utmost importance. It’s good to look after yourself physically, but better to do so spiritually. As Christians we can often dedicate too much time to stuff which does not benefit our souls. Paul made sure Timothy was warned about this.

He made sure that Timothy knew who not to worry about as well, “11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 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” (1 Tim. 4:11-16).

I love what Paul is saying here, he is telling Timothy, don’t give two hoots if people condemn you for silly external things. Who cares if they think you are too young, or too precocious. Just use the gift God gave you to preach, teach and exhort from God’s word, put it into practice, and God will do the rest for you.

This is important for all of us, because if we know we are seeking to honour God, and that we are under good council, then we should just forge ahead boldly and let God deal with the critics. You might even win some of them over.

He also made sure to affirm Timothy’s noble stature, “11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Tim. 6:11-12).

He affirmed the man that Timothy had become, and challenged him to continue to live up to it. Don’t coast Timothy, be encouraged Timothy, but make sure you don’t coast. I love how he says, “fight the good fight of the faith…” This is the fight against evil, the fight against sin, the fight against lies, the fight against injustice, the fight against false religion, the fight against all that stops human flourishing and allows evil to advance.

Paul took this young disciple whom he encountered in his missionary journeys, someone whose mother and grandmother (2 Tim. 3:5) had instilled in him a solid foundation and he forged him into a little Paul clone. He made him a church leader of incredible ability, aptitude and godliness. Incredible. The last thing we have recorded that Paul ever said to Timothy is quite powerful, 2 Timothy 3:14-17 – “14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Paul did not begin the work in Timothy, it was begun by God through Timothy’s family line, grandmother to mother to son. But he sure did his part to help it grow to maturity. And then Timothy did the same thing with others.

Even into his later years, Paul saw Timothy as his child in the faith, 2 Timothy 1:2 - “To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” Because he had invested in him, built into him, dedicated himself to developing him, and built him into the man of God, that God intended him to always be. This is really cool.

So how do we apply this to ourselves?

This is an excerpt from a sermon, to hear the rest of the message click here.


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