Timothy must have been a pastor of a rather wealthy church because in 1 Timothy 6, Paul gives some of the most famous advice concerning money ever given.
1Ti 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Money is not the root of all evil as we have heard a million times; the love of money is the root of all evil. The differentiation is rather clear. It is the attitude we take towards the money that is the problem. It is possible to be rich and follow Christ, but later in the chapter, Paul goes on to outline some things that the rich need to remain particularly careful about.
1Ti 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
Those who were wealthy needed to be careful that they did not put their trust in their money. God has given us all things to enjoy, and that includes money naturally. I don’t think that God minds when we use the money that He has allowed us to have, but we need to make sure that it does not become what we put our trust in. The wealthy are particularly susceptible to this type of temptation because we do live in a world where money is a big deal. In a world dominated by talks about financial security, it is easy to become wrapped up in our bank accounts.
That’s where we need to be countercultural. I’m not saying that we need to take a vow of poverty. I am saying that we need to live lives that are about a lot more than money. There are many things that we can trust, and if we are not trusting God, then we are simply wrong. Money is no substitute.
Paul reminds Timothy that even though he is the pastor of the congregation and he is by necessity involved in the lives of the people who attend, he certainly does not know everything good or bad about people, and in 1 Timothy 5, he might never learn some things about people.
1Ti 5:24 Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.
1Ti 5:25 Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.
We don’t know everything about all of those around us. I love it when you find out something great about someone that you never knew before. When you find out that someone spends every Saturday morning working at the food bank or visits all of the elderly people in the church, it is pretty exciting. However, we don’t always hear about all the good that people do because they don’t feel the need to publicize it. They are humble, and that is fine, but it just goes to show that there are good things that people do for the goodness of doing good rather than for the publicity.
On the other hand, there are also people who are very good at hiding what they’re doing wrong. Sin does have a way of coming out, but it does not always. The implication here however is that God knows what is happening, and we cannot hide that from God. Even though Timothy might not have known all the problems within his congregation, God would be able to handle that someday.
I then think about our lives. Some people know us very well. We have family or friends to know a lot about us, but they probably cannot practically know everything. God on the other hand knows everything good and bad. The most amazing part about that is that He loves us regardless.
In 1 Timothy 4, we find out that there were apparently some people in the church who did not appreciate the fact that a young man was their spiritual leader. Paul encourages Timothy to be an example.
1Ti 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
1Ti 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
I know that everyone has probably heard this verse repeated in youth group and things like that for years, but Paul did not just tell Timothy to not worry about being young. He told him to live out a life of quality as well. He essentially had to earn their respect by dedicating himself to the service at hand.
In the world today, I feel like we would like to stop the verse after the word youth. We don’t want people to look down on us for being younger, so we would embrace that part of the verse. Paul seems to agree that these people should not, but Timothy has a responsibility as well. His job is to earn their respect by acting like a pastor in the early church was expected to act. They had to meet in the middle.
If we bring this one to the modern context, think about the phrase “do as I say, not as I do.” The implication there is that we expect other people to follow rules and do things in the right way, but we don’t take responsibility ourselves. Paul is blatantly telling Timothy not to do that. Yes, they should not look down on you because of your youth. However, you need to live up to the standard of a pastor as well. You cannot act like a young kid and expect the people to respect you like they ought to because of your position.
Christian leaders can obviously be old or young, and ultimately age is not what makes a difference. Rather, a commitment to following God and being an example in that lifestyle is much more important.
In 1 Timothy 3, we receive the qualifications for church leadership. Presumably, Timothy was a fairly responsible young man, but Paul explains why he is outlining these qualities for Timothy to follow as a young pastor.
1Ti 3:14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:
1Ti 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
In our everyday lives, we don’t need to ideologically agree with our coworkers. If we do business with other companies, we don’t need to see eye to eye on every issue. It is fine in that context. It would be ridiculous to only interact with people we agree absolutely with.
However, the church is a different type of institution. There are certain characteristics that are necessary in the church. For the people who are going to be leading the church, there needs to be agreement and solidarity there. Not that any two people are going to agree on everything, but there needs to be a level of shared commitment that we certainly do not need in every area of our lives.
Some of you might remember the issue that arose when InterVarsity wanted to maintain standards for their leadership that at a bare minimum they would be Christian leaders. They were not allowed on certain campuses as a result of that statement, but they were remaining faithful to passages like this in Timothy.
Remember that the church is the institution that stands for truth. As the universal body of Christ, we are here to promote a Christian worldview and bring people to the point where they understand the pleasure of glorifying God. Therefore, as we need leaders in such an institution, we need to make sure that it is a very important responsibility for these leaders to maintain the shared commitment.
As a leader in the early church, Paul reminds Timothy that it is important to pray for everyone in 1 Timothy 2.
1Ti 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
1Ti 2:2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
1Ti 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
This even includes people that Timothy would not have necessarily liked. I don’t know Timothy’s views on government, but maybe he was not thrilled with the people in leadership; Paul told him to pray for them. I know that many people today get upset about the government or people in leadership, but we also then ought to pray for those who are in power.
After all, think about it. Who doesn’t need prayer? Even if we don’t like someone, it doesn’t mean that we don’t pray for them. In fact, it almost seems to me that those people who are doing things that the other people who need for most of all (although I realize that we all equally fallen and therefore need prayer equally).
I wonder how this would change the dialogue for Christians. It would be something if we were more concerned about praying for all people. It certainly might be a more positive environment. While I don’t doubt that we need to speak out about things that are going wrong in the world, at the same time, we should make a concerted effort to pray for those even if they oppose us. Even if there are problems that we don’t agree with or support whatsoever, we can still pray for those people.
Mentors are important, and as we enter 1 Timothy 1, Paul advises Timothy as to the seriousness of the battle that every Christian must face.
1Ti 1:18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;
1Ti 1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
I know that the term culture war comes with some ideological baggage, but I don’t know how to describe this situation any better. After all, it is obviously the imagery that Paul is communicating to Timothy.
There is something serious about the way that the Christian needs to relate to the world. In a war, it is not simply a game of pickup basketball where it really doesn’t matter who comes out on top. If the Christian worldview is accurate, then decisions we make here on earth have eternal significance. The stakes are remarkably high. Denying Jesus on earth will result in an eternal separation from Him. Accepting Jesus will result in an eternity with Him.
As a result, this is not something that we ought to take lightly. I think that is what Paul is trying to tell Timothy. He needs to be bold in following Jesus Christ because if he does not, he will have made a terrible mistake or shipwreck as Paul says.
Therefore, I’m not saying that we need to pick up our weapons and go out and fight. Paul did not do that himself, so it would not make sense whatsoever for him to be advising Timothy to do that. Do not misconstrue what I am saying. However, we do need to have that kind of attitude. We need to understand the seriousness of a belief in Christ. As Paul wrote earlier, if Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, then all of this is foolishness. By implication however, if Jesus did rise from the dead, then we need to take that seriously, and we need to do whatever we can to communicate that truth to the world around us.