1 Timothy chapter 5

“…deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed” – Vs 25

In this chapter, Paul starts dealing with some very specific issues and groups within the church. He talks about neglected widows and neglectful husbands. He discusses the compensation for worthy elders and even the medicinal use of wine for Timothy’s ongoing stomach problems. But the verse that jumped out the most to me was the very last one in this chapter. He simple says, “…deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed.” The Message puts it this way:

“The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.”

Paul has been dealing with a lot of relationship issues. Remember, chapter three talked about our conduct in the household of God. Chapter four talked about excersising spiritual discipline. Now he is getting into specifics of what conduct or behavior in the household of God should look like. He gets very practical and specific. But the bottom line is that our good deeds, like our sins, are very visible. They are right out there for others to see. When we do what is right, when we excercise godliness, when we do good deeds, others can see them. They are hard to hide. But our “bad” deeds, while hidden for a while, will also come to light. They’ll show up sooner or later. Just as our sins cannot stay hidden for long.

This is still all about conduct within the church. It is about relationships within the body. Paul is encouraging young Timothy and us to be discipline ourselves to live lives that exhibit good deeds. Not for any accolades or applaus we may receive, but because they are profitable for us as individual believers and for the family of God. Do them and they will be readily visible to all around. Fail to do them or do deeds that are selfish and self-centered, and they will become evident as well. But they will not be profitable for anything.

As we discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness, our deeds will become evident. Our godliness will become visible through our actions. Our heart transformation will influence our behavior toward one another. And the world will see.

Father, help me to be a man whose good deeds come from my pursuit of godliness. Let them be the by-product of a disciplined pursuit of You and Your Word. I want my actions to be the reaction of a relationship with You, not based on some self-effort that I try to manufacture in a lame attempt to look spiritual. I want what I do to be an outcome of who I am becoming in You, of who I already am in You. A son of God, a righteous priest in the household of God. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

1 Timothy chapter 4

“…discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness…” – Vs 7

We are a hard-working society. Most people put in more hours per week on their jobs than any other generation before them. We even work hard at our leisure and recreation. Not content to have one hobby or fitness passion, many of us pursue a wide assortment of exercise options, putting in countless hours at the gym or working out at home. We bike, run, lift weights, do aerobics, Pilates, Yoga, and a range of other popular fitness fads. None of which are bad. But how many of us put the same level of energy and effort we put into work and recreation into our spiritual development?

Paul had to have been an exercise nut, because he refers to the topic quite a bit in his letters. Or it could be that he was writing within the context of a culture heavily influenced by Greek thought, that was obsessed with the human body. Exercise was a huge deal in his day. A well-formed, fit human body was considered a thing of beauty. And it was worth working for. So Paul took that same mentality and applied it to his reader’s pursuit of godliness. He says, “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (Vs 7). The word there for “discipline” is the Greek word gymnazo, which literally means, “to exercise vigorously, in any way, either the body or the mind.” It’s the same Greek word from which we get our words gym and gymnasium. It was a popular word with the apostle Paul.

Godliness is profitable for all things

Paul tells Timothy, and us, to discipline himself for godliness. He is to exercise vigorously both his body and his mind so that he might become increasingly more godly. Why? Because godliness is profitable. It is advantageous. Not just for the life to come (heaven), but for the present life. So it is worth laboring and striving for (Vs 10). It should become a high priority in our lives because it gives us an advantage in this life. Godliness is what allows us to navigate the rough seas and storms of this life. It is what gives us the stamina to take the next step, when we think we can’t go on. It is what provides us with the energy we need when we are feeling tired and ready to give up. Godliness is not just about more Scripture knowledge and religious platitudes. It is the key to survival in a very inhospitable place.

So if it is so important, why don’t more of us as believers spend more time disciplining ourselves in the pursuit of godliness? Because the world is screaming at us that it is NOT important. It is a waste of time. There are more pressing things to be concerned with. Like working more hours so you can make more money. Or increasing your weekly mileage so you can run a faster 5K. Or getting in better shape so you can look better in your bathing suit this summer. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of those things, but when they become more important than our own spiritual growth, we have lost perspective. We have gotten our priorities mixed up. Paul says bodily exercise is only of little profit. It may make you look better, allow you to live a little longer, give you a bit more stamina, and improve your self-esteem, but time spent pursuing godliness has both short- and long-term implications. It is profitable and advantageous. It has lasting results that won’t diminish with age or time.

Father, forgive me for not spending more time exercising spiritually and for allowing myself to get out of spiritual shape. It leaves me spiritually lethargic and lacking in the energy I need to live the life you’ve called me to live. I get tired too easily. I run out of spiritual breath too quickly. I find myself lacking the stamina I need to run the race to win. Help me see spiritual exercise and the pursuit of godliness as a non-negotiable in my life. May I make it a priority each and every day of my life. Because it holds promise for this life and also for the life to come! Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

1 Timothy chapter 3

“…so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” – Vs 15

If you spend any time reading and studying the writings of Paul, you quickly discover that he was extremely passionate about the conduct or behavior of believers. It is a popular topic in all his letters. Partly because the church was young and the converts to this new faith called The Way were bringing a mixed bag of religious beliefs and pagan influences along with them. There was no written code of conduct. They didn’t know how followers of Christ were supposed to act. You had Jewish converts attempting to bring the requirements of the Law and mix them with their new-found freedom in Christ. You had Gentile converts trying to blend their pagan practices with the teachings of Christ and the apostles. So it was a confusing and potentially dangerous time for this fledgling band of brothers and sisters known as Christians or Christ followers.

The household God

Paul went out of his way to emphasize to his readers that they were members of a new household. This was God’s family. They had entered into a new relationship with God that was communal and not just individual. They were part of a family of faith that was going to rely on interaction and interpersonal relationships. It wasn’t just “you and God” anymore, but it was going to be about you as a member of the family of God. Like any family, how all the members get along is what will determine the health of the family. If everyone simply looks out for their own self-interests, you will ultimately have conflict. So interpersonal relationships and behavior are critical in the family of God.

The church of the living God

This new family is the church of the living God. It is HIS church, not ours. We represent Him on this earth. He started the church and He placed it on the earth so that it might reflect who He is. In the earliest days of the church, recorded in the book of Acts, we see that there was a sense of oneness, openness, community, and care that made the church attractive and vibrant. The love they had for one another was contagious. The community they shared with one another was infectious. They were the church of the living God and as a result, they drew people to God in mass, and so the church grew rapidly.

The pillar and support of the truth

But along with being a place of community and a representation of God on this planet, the church is to be the “pillar and support of the truth.” We are to hold fast to the truth of God as found in His Word. We are to teach it, preach it, believe it, and live it daily. When the church fails to do so, the foundations begin to quickly crumble. We can see this happening in our own nation as churches and denominations abandon their responsibility to uphold and support the truth of God. They bend the truth or simply manufacture their own version of the truth. The result is chaos and confusion. The community loses its moral compass. The nation begins to do what is right in its own eyes instead of what is right in the sight of God. The church is to stand as a beacon of light in a dark world. The church is to lift up God’s Word and model the power of its truth through godly behavior and loving relationships. We are to prove that His truth is true and that His ways work.

Live like you believe it

The world needs to see the church living out what it says it believes. We need men and women of godly character modeling the Christ-life for all to see. We are not perfect, but we do have a power present within us that allows us to live lives that are truly transformed. As elders who lead with integrity. As deacons who serve with dignity. As men and women who exhibit purity. As families that model Christ-like unity. As parents who know how to lead patiently and lovingly. As members of the church of God who support the truth faithfully.

Father, may I see myself increasingly more clearly as a member of this magnificent organism called the church of God. Help me to die to my self-centeredness and selfishness and see myself as part of a living, breathing community of faith. Together may we be all that You have called us to be. May we support and hold up the truth of your word as we live it out daily in every area of our lives. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

1 Timothy chapter 2

“First of all, then, I pray that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men.” – Vs 1

Do you have any people in your life you just refuse to pray for? You know the ones I’m talking about. They’re those hard-to-get-along-with type of people who rub you the wrong way or who just make your life miserable. Maybe it’s your boss or a coworker. It could be a neighbor or even a family member. But we all have them. Then there are those individuals we don’t even know, but who we feel no real desire to pray for. They could be a politician, a prominent person in the community, or the corrupt leader of a third-w0rld country who lives in luxury while his people starve to death. Those are the kinds of guys I basically refuse to put on my prayer list. In my mind, they don’t deserve it. If I pray for them at all, it usually isn’t for their well-being. Then I run into 1 Timothy 2!

…on behalf of ALL men

There it is. No arguing semantics or hermaneutics. It is pretty simple. Paul urges us to pray for all men. Even kings and those who are in authority. That includes every politician from either party in our own country, as well as every corrupt leader in every nation on the face of the globe. Paul says that praying for these people is “good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” God wants us to pray for all men and women everywhere. But what does He want us to pray? For their removal if they are corrupt? For their further success if they are of our particular political persuasion? For their failure if they don’t happen to come down on the right side of the political fence?

No, Paul makes no distinction. He just says to pray for all men. What makes this a particularly powerful statement is that the Roman Emperor on the thone as Paul penned these words was the infamous Nero. Here are just a few excerpts from Easton’s Bible Dictionary to describe the man in power while Paul was writing Timothy:

He became emperor of Rome when he was about seventeen years of age (A.D. 54), and soon began to exhibit the character of a cruel tyrant and heathen debauchee.

And in their [Christians] deaths they were also made the subjects of sport; for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts and worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and, when day declined, burned to serve for nocturnal lights. Nero offered his own gardens for that spectacle.

Nero was the emperor before whom Paul was brought on his first imprisonment at Rome, and the apostle is supposed to have suffered martyrdom during this persecution.

Quite a guy. Yet Paul encourages the believers of his day to pray for him. But what was Paul asking them to pray? From the context it would seem that Paul was encouraging believers to pray for nothing less than Nero’s salvation.

“This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” – Vs 4

Paul wasn’t praying for Nero’s downfall or removal, but for his salvation. Paul took every opportunity to try and introduce every prominent political figure he met to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ – from Festus and Felix to Agrippa and probably even Nero, if he ever got the opportunity. But he more than likely prayed for each of these men every day.

Who should we be praying for?

Who are the Nero’s of our day? There are plenty of corrupt political power brokers out there who are taking Nero’s reign of terror to new heights. They are persecuting the church. They are imprisoning believers and putting many to death for their faith. And while we should pray for the persecuted church, are we willing to pray for the salvation of those responsible for the persecution? Paul would. Because Jesus Christ gave Himself “a ransom for all” (Vs 6). Jesus died on behalf of all men. He payed the price for not only my sins but the sins of the world. So Paul says, “I want the men in every place to pray, lifiting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension” (Vs 8). The believers of Paul’s day probably felt like they had every right to be angry at Nero for his attrocities. But Paul said they were to replace their anger with prayer. They were to not allow “dissension” or reasoning within themselves to convince themselves not to pray. No, they were just to pray – for all men, everywhere. And leave the results to God.

Father, I confess that there are many in this world I do not feel the urge to pray for. I may want to pray them out of office or pray for their ultimate failure, but praying for their salvation just doesn’t seem right or fair. In some way, I feel as if they do not deserve it. But then You remind me that I did not deserve salvation either. The truth is, the only way men can live a “tranquil and quite life in all godliness and dignity” (Vs 2) is if they come to a saving knowledge of Your Son Jesus Christ. Put in me a growing desire for all men to be “saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (Vs 4), because that is what You desire. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men