I TIMOTHY 11
HOW A CHRISTIAN PREACHER OR LEADER SHOULD BE
After Paul warns Timothy against various false teachers, such as those who forbid people to marry, and order them to abstain from certain foods, Paul tells him to “point these things out to the brothers”. Barclay says that the word Paul uses does not mean to “command” them or to issue orders. It is a word which means to advise, or suggest in a gentle and humble way. He says, “It means that the teacher should never dogmatically and pugnaciously lay down the law”. As I read these words, I cannot help but remember many sermons I have heard from “big” preachers in which they posed as one who had all the truth and condemned all who did not agree. Their sermons were a judgement of hell to any who dared to differ. As Paul is admonishing Timothy here, that does not reflect the One who came with the message of God’s love to seek and to save the lost. Preaching the Gospel is not a command. It is a plea. It is not
to drive men, but to gently lead them to the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
In his instructions and admonitions to Timothy, Paul gives him some areas in which he should be an example. Every preacher and Bible teacher should read these words carefully and realize that it is their responsibility to take each one of these things very seriously. One who undertakes to preach and teach the Word of God must be guided by the example of the Master Teacher, and these words of Paul lay before us the way this must be done. He says (Barclay translation), “In your words and in your conduct, in love, in loyalty and in purity, show yourself to be an example of what believing people should be”. I want to call your attention to the last three of these areas of concern: love, loyalty and purity.
The word for Christian love is “agape”. In I Corinthians 13, Paul calls this the chief and most important of all Christian virtues. We think of love as something that we cannot help. Love for family and other dear ones is not something we choose but something that we feel. However, Christian love is not something of the heart, it is something of the will. It is a decision we make…a discipline we impose on ourselves. It means unconditionally caring about another person, regardless of his worth to us or even if he is an abuser. One
writer calls it unconquerable benevolence. To want the best for the other person regardless of his behavior. If that sounds difficult we need to remember that that is exactly how God loves us. If He did not, none of us would have a chance. I may not love the actions of a person, but because he is my Father’s creation, I should love his soul.
In preaching or teaching others, we should always remember to keep the message of love showing through in all we say. Would that every preacher of the Word would remember that.
The original Greek New Testament has “spirit and faith” following the word for “love”. However, some translators have combined the two words into the word “loyalty”. This is because one who is led by the Spirit and has true faith in the Lord will have absolute loyalty to Christ, no matter what the circumstances might be. This kind of loyalty means setting aside your own desires or even your own best interest if the cause of Christ demands it. This is loyalty to Him at all costs. In our society today, it is possible that we may be called on to take unpopular and even dangerous positions if we are to be loyal to Jesus Christ.
Finally, Paul urges a life of purity. Jesus promised His disciples that the world would hate them. It is still true today. Unfortunately, many religious teachers have ignored the Bible in order to be more acceptable to the worldly desires of the market place and attract more people. The Bible warns us to be careful when “all men speak well of you”. What pleases men, driven by human desires, is not what pleases the God of Heaven. Christianity’s contribution to society is men and women who are more honest, trustworthy and pure. They
make the best citizens, and they make the world a better place to live in.