How do we go about respecting and rebuking the saints? What is appropriate and what isn’t? Thank God He gave us 1 Timothy to answer these questions and serve as our guide.
A successful industrialist once addressed a large body of executives. Speaking on the topic “Following the Leader,” he emphasized two difficulties leaders often struggle with. First, leaders struggle with getting people to think—to really think. Second, leaders struggle with getting people to establish and maintain priorities. We all wrestle with doing things in order of importance. One of the reasons for this struggle is that we often don’t know what deserves our immediate attention. For ministry our first priority is clear: prayer.
Beginning in 1 Timothy 4:6 and continuing through the rest of the letter, Paul turns our attention to the one who seeks to be “a good servant of Christ Jesus,” namely, the minister. Paul starts off by outlining a list of dos and don’ts for effective ministry, focusing first on the pastor’s personal ministry and then on the pastor’s public ministry.
Today, we live and minister amidst the crazies. And if you doubt it, just look around. This isn’t your father’s world anymore. So what are we to do? Bunch tightly in our holy huddles, hoping to keep the world at bay? Not on your life!
We could consider 1 Timothy the handbook on biblical ministry within the church. The first half focuses on the work of ministry—the service. The second half focuses on the workman who performs ministry—the servant. The interlude between these two halves (1 Timothy 3:14-16) focuses on the why of ministry—the soul. The ministry may be theologically and biblically correct, but it’s all head and no heart.
The role of women in the church is a hot issue, best handled with sensitivity and compassion—and maybe a pair of asbestos gloves! This is not because Scripture is controversial but because the role of women in the culture is different from what Scripture teaches about the role of women in the church. So, questions rise like steam from a boiling kettle.
We all wrestle with doing things in order of importance. One of the reasons for this struggle is that we often don’t know what deserves our immediate attention. For ministry our first priority is clear: prayer.
In this brief vignette, we read of Paul—called Saul—before his conversion to Christ. Saul was “a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor” who, by his own admission, “acted ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Timothy 1:13). Ironically, Saul was a religious zealot, an intense rabbi, sincere to the core…but sincerely wrong. And so? Mercy in the form of Jesus Christ came to the rescue!
This study offers insight on the biblical theology of ministry—as opposed to an approach to ministry based on experience, opinion, prejudice, culture, and preference. Let’s keep a keen eye on what is written in God’s Word and then do our best to let it shape our thinking.
Visiting the sphinx and the pyramids fulfilled a dream. But my most significant Egyptian discovery was to see fear as something to be dealt with, and replaced with faith—faith in others and faith in Christ.