Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Feast of St. Timothy: A Devotional Commentary

1 Timothy 6:11-16 But you, O man of God, flee from these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith, take hold of eternal life, to which you were called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I command you in the presence of God who gives life to all things and Christ Jesus who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, to keep the commandment unstained, irreproachable until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will display in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of the kings and Lord of the lords, who alone possesses immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no person has seen or can see, to whom is honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

Matthew 24:42-47 Therefore, watch, because you do not know in what hour your Lord is coming. However, know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore, be ready, for it is at an hour which you do not expect that the Son of Man will come. Who then is the faithful and wise servant whom his mastere has set over his household, to give them their food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his lord finds doing so when he comes. Amen, I tell you that he will set him over all that he has.

Timothy's father was a pagan. But Timothy's mother, Eunice, was born an Israelite and had accepted the Christian faith. She committed Timothy to be raised by her mother Lois, who was also a Christian. Timothy was catechized by his grandmother and Paul was his spiritual father. Eventually Timothy was ordained a bishop by Paul.

Paul warns Timothy of those who have used the Gospel as a means to make lots of money and have departed from the faith handed down by the Apostles. Paul tells Timothy to flee from these things. Instead, Timothy is to pursue a way of life that is in accord with God's will and pleasing to Him. Timothy is to pursue of piety and godliness. Timothy is called to trust in God and to love both God and his neighbor. Timothy is called to patiently endure persecution and wait for Christ's return. And Timothy is called to live a life of gentleness. Paul tells Timothy to fight the good fight of faith. The true faith is not welcomed by the world and often not even by the church and so it meets opposition. Paul tells Timothy to take hold of eternal life. Although eternal life in its fullest sense will only happen when Jesus returns, Timothy is called to take hold of it now.

Paul reminds Timothy of the good confession that Timothy made in the presence of many witnesses when Timothy was ordained. Paul commands Timothy to "keep the commandment"--the entire body of Christian doctrine handed down to him without taking anything away from it or adding anything to it until Christ returns regardless of the opposition he will face. This is no trivial matter. Timothy's master is not some earthly king who can be tricked. Timothy's king is the Sovereign, Immortal, Invisible, King of kings and Lord of lords. And He could show up at any moment. He could show up while you're calling upon Him to damn your computer.

The charge that Paul gives Timothy should certainly be humbling for any pastor. Who lives up to that? It's a passage worth reading when deciding who to call as a pastor to your church. It should certainly keep the Perry Nobles and the prosperity-Gospel guys off your list of pastors to call.

I suppose you could sit down and write out a list of how your pastor is not doing all these things that he is supposed to do. Maybe when you spent an hour complaining about how awful he is you didn't receive a very gentle response. But the application of this passage goes beyond ordained clergy. Because if you are a Christian you have been ordained as well--not in the narrow sense, don't go around and start holding you own little Lord's Suppers or anything. But in baptism you were ordained as an ambassador of God. You are to be Christ to your neighbor. You are called to exhibit these same qualities that Timothy was called to exhibit. And that's pretty scary if you think about it.

Hopefully reading this passage will keep you from being one of those guys on the internet who just runs around yelling heretic at everyone. But it should also show you how sinful you are in not fulfilling these things. The list is pretty straightforward and simple. The ordination that Jesus received and the testimony that He gave before Pontius Pilate was certainly a more difficult and burdensome road than our own. He had the sins of all the world weighing upon Him and He did not fail in His calling. He suffered for your unrighteousness, your ungodliness, your doubt, your hatred, your impatience, and even your obnoxiousness. He fulfilled His calling for you.

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