Today's verses again come from Paul's instructions to Timothy and Titus. At first glance, they appear to be nothing more than a list of moral instructions. However, if you dig a little deeper, you will notice some crucial principles that lie behind these instructions. Here are a few of those principles that I want you to take seriously, as is the case for all of Paul's teaching. These principles are essential if you are going to be salt and light to those around you — something we have been discussing the last few days and something I taught in My Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:13-16)
- Don't limit your influence or ministry because of your age whether you are young or old or in between. Let the character of your life give you the platform from which you serve.
- No matter your age, you can keep growing and influencing people when they see your commitment to personal growth and purity.
- Have your life illustrate what your words are trying to teach.
- Focus on the core truth of the good news and on living a life of good deeds.
- Recognize that your authority to call people to holy living arises out of the holy character of your life and words.
- Have good, respectful, appropriate, holy relationships with people of all ages and genders.
- Don't play favorites, especially when it comes to appointing and recognizing leaders in My church.
After reading the verses below, you might be tempted to overlook these things if you are not a leader in your church. However, when you go back and look at them again, the Holy Spirit will help you recognize something very significant. Your godly influence on the lives of those around you is dependent upon living these principles.
The people in your circle of influence are not the result of mere happenstance or luck. I have placed you in that position of influence for you to make an impact for Me on the lives of those people.
Don't let anyone belittle you because you are young. Instead, show the faithful, young and old, an example of how to live: set the standard for how to talk, act, love, and be faithful and pure. Until I [Paul] get there, make sure to devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching. Don't neglect the gift that was given to you through the prophecy spoken when the company of the elders laid their hands on you. Cultivate all these practices; live by them so that all will see how you are advancing and growing. Take care of yourself, concentrate on your teaching, and stick with these things. If you do, then you will be effective in bringing salvation to yourself and all who hear you.
(1 Timothy 4:12-16)
As to you, Titus: talk to them [those who are not living holy lives]; give them a good, healthy diet of solid teaching so they will know the right way to live. Here's what I want you to teach the older men: enjoy everything in moderation, respect yourselves and others, be sensible, and dedicate yourselves to living an unbroken faith demonstrated by your love and perseverance. And here's what I want you to teach the older women: Be respectful. Steer clear of gossip or drinking too much so that you can teach what is good to young women. Be a positive example, showing them what it is to love their husbands and children, and teaching them to control themselves in every way and to be pure. Train them to manage the household, to be kind, and to be submissive to their husbands, all of which honor the word of God. Encourage the young men in the same way: in every situation, they should learn to control themselves. Titus, you have to set a good example for everyone. Go out of your way to do what is right, speak the truth with the weight and authority that come from an honest and pure life. No one can argue with that. Then your enemies will cower in shame because they have nothing bad to say against us.
Elders who are leading well should be admired and valued. Double up on the honor shown them; care for them well — especially those constantly and consistently teaching the word and preaching. For the Scripture agrees, "Don't muzzle the ox while it is treading out your grain," and, "The worker deserves his wages." Listen, when or if a charge comes against an elder, don't even acknowledge the accusation unless there are two or more witnesses. Bring any believers who persist in sinning before the community and publicly scold them so that all the rest will know to fear sin and its consequences. I challenge you — in front of God, Jesus His Anointed, and His select heavenly messengers — to keep these instructions. And don't do anything out of favoritism. Don't be too quick to lay hands upon anyone or share in the sins of others — stay clean.
(1 Timothy 5:17-22)
O Father, thank You for the people You have placed in my life. I confess that I don't always notice all of them. I look past some. I ignore others. I simply haven't seen some others as significant or relevant to my life. Please, dear Father, forgive me. Work on my heart through the transforming influence of the Holy Spirit. Please help me to view others with the eyes of Jesus. I want to influence for good all those whom You place in my circle of influence. I want to be Your salt and Your light brought to the relationships where You have placed me, called me to impact, and empowered me to serve. In Jesus' name, I ask for this grace. Amen.