Title: The Servant’s Struggle
Text: 1 Timothy 4.6-10
CP: A good servant of Christ who teaches others, is intentional in receiving nourishment through God’s Word and living out a life of godliness before them.
Intro: With COVID-19 shutting down the way the church practices, I’ve had to sit down and put to paper what I think will need to change. I was inspired by Ed Stetzer’s podcast/blog from his basement this past Monday morning. He said: this is not the crisis!
From there he recommended church leaders work through 4 phases:
- Pause and Pivot
- Prepare and Plan
- Engage and Execute
- Recover & Re-emerge
He said too many pastors were stuck in Phase one, thinking the crisis was that they couldn’t worship together in church. But there is really so much more. In Phase Two, he asks: What needs to change? How does it need to change? And I think, for larger organizations, who on the team is responsible to implement that change?
Well, that got me thinking through that process. I don’t want to bore you with the details, but I quickly jotted down a few items. Worship together changes, Communication changes, and the way we serve changes.
Some people serve more naturally than others. It’s their gift. But according to Scripture, we’re all to be servants. We’re supposed to be like Jesus, our Master – ‘who came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.’
So, as I looked at this particular area of service, I began to work through what service will be like for Christians during this pandemic. If you’ve served as an usher for 30 years, that isn’t going to be happening during the next few weeks. So how do we adapt?
I’ll have more on this on Wednesday night. For now, let’s talk about Service and being a servant.
We’re in 1 Timothy 4 this morning. We’ll pick up in verse 6-10.
The immediate context is godliness. I’m reminded of how Becky coined the phrase: Context is King.
Can I say a quick word about that? Lots of ‘preachers’/’teachers’ are putting out their devotionals because they can’t meet with their folks. There is some crazy stuff out there. Some people bringing devotionals without any Scripture. Others, using Scripture way out of context. Now, I’m not trying to dog on pastors and leaders trying to stay in touch with their congregation. But, remember: Context is king. Don’t just read one verse and assume you know what it means.
For our context: Godliness (εὐσέβεια) appears 15x’s in the NT; 14 of those in the Pastoral Epistles and 10 in this letter alone. When considering what the context of this letter is all about, you’ve definitely got to put godliness up at the top of your list.
But we also find it in our immediate context, godliness is mention in 3.16 (the mystery of godliness). And it appears twice in our text (4.7, 8) this morning.
Paul gives his purpose for writing the letter in 3.14-15. In v 16, he gives this beautiful Statement of Faith in Christ – the mystery of godliness. You’ll remember from two weeks ago that as we looked at this ‘Statement of Faith’ we find that Godliness isn’t gained from obeying and doing the works of the Law. It is gained through the work of Christ on the Cross.
But in chapter 4.1, Paul demonstrates to Timothy that false teachers are teaching falsely about what godliness is. They were evidently teaching Asceticism – don’t eat, don’t drink, sex is bad. He warns of false godliness.
Now, he turns his attention toward the servant of God who demonstrates godliness in their lives. And this is where it hits home for us – especially at this time. Read with me:
A Good Servant of Christ Jesus:
6 If you put these things before the brothers,
you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus,
being trained: nourished
in the words of the faith
and of the good doctrine that you have followed (Lk 1.3; 2 Tim 3.10).
7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.
Rather train yourself work out; gymnasium for godliness;
8 for while bodily training work out; gymnasium is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.
10 For to this end, we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (it is work)
Transition: I’ve outlined three areas of life where a good servant of Christ is intentional:
- A Good Servant of Christ Jesus is intentional in being nourished in God’s Word (6).
- A Good Servant of Christ Jesus is intentional in how they live out their godliness before others (7).
- A Good Servant of Christ Jesus is intentional in sharing their faith with others because they have eternity in mind.
So let’s begin with our first point:
I. A Good Servant of Christ Jesus is intentional in being nourished in God’s Word (6).
exp.: rd 6a; What are ‘these things’? 3.14-15 – how they are to behave, who they are, what they are to believe. Rd 6b; trained; in our text, we find this word ‘train’ 3x’s; but, there are two different words in the Gk; this word is the word meaning ‘to nourish’; the root of this word is found in Mt 6.26; 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Added to this, this word means to continually be nourishing yourself; It’s a present passive participle; continually being nourished;
- Nourished in two ways:
- In the Words of the Faith; this is the ‘Apostolic’ faith; there is a definite article here. You’ll note a particular faith – the faith; you and I have that here; The Bible.
- Of the Good Doctrine, you have followed; Doctrine could be translated teaching. You have followed. Paul has mentioned some of these people who taught Timothy in other places in his letters. 2 Tim 1.5 we learn that he first followed the teaching he received from his mama and his grandmother. 2 Tim 3.10-16;
Ill.: my examples:
my Nana – every morning and every night;
my Paul was Bro. Bill;
My practice for reading the Bible through in 1 year.
- The Law
- The History
- The Writings
- The Prophets
- The New Testament
app.: Children, ask your momma how she reads the Bible. Ask your Grandmother, how she reads the Bible. Ask your father, also. Learn their secrets. Can I make a recommendation? The Big Picture Story Book, by David Helm. Also, Kevin DeYoung’s The Biggest Story. Great for devotional reading with your kids and grandkids.
app.: Christian, you need to be intentional about your nourishment. Maybe this lockdown has your schedule all messed up. It has me. I get up and go straight to the Coronavirus reports in the News. How many more cases? How many more deaths? Where are we in the #s? Before I know it, my time is slipping away.
t.s.: As a Good Servant of the Lord, be intentional about your spiritual nourishment.
II. A Good Servant of Christ Jesus is intentional in how they live out their godliness before others (7-9).
exp.: rd v 7; First, they avoid irreverent, silly myths. 2nd, Rather train yourself… this word ‘train’ is different than the previous one. It is the word from which we get our English word Gymnasium. Now we usually say: Are you going to the Gym? Whereas in the previous section you ‘work in’ that nourishment; here, you ‘work out’ your godliness before others. You practice it. You exercise it.
Wouldn’t it be nice, if we just became godly when we accepted Christ? All addictions, all bad habits, all ungodliness was gone? Yeah, it doesn’t work that way. It is something we have to be intentional about. It ain’t at all-natural.
And this workout – it serves a dual purpose:
- The here and now, for the present.
- The hereafter, for the future.
Rd v 8; verse 9 tells us this is some kind of statement that was popular in Paul’s day. Rd v 9;
app.: now, how are we godly in a lockdown? 1st of all, not all of you are in lockdown. We have some folks in our church who are on the frontline of this defense. EMT’s who are having to make ambulance calls to the sick; Nurses; Doctors (Andrew O’Kelly); These people are our heroes; They’re leading the fight in a different kind of War;
Thank you, heroes, for your service. Thank you for your example of bravery.
But for many others, you’re limited in your activity toward others. Well, as Christians, I think we should be brave, too – and help those who need help. I’ll talk some more about this Wednesday night, but there might just be opportunities for you to serve those around you – in your neighborhood or your neck of the woods (without putting you or your family at risk). Sure, there are risks, but you can practice good hygiene and practice smart actions toward the sick.
t.s.: Let’s conclude this… A good servant of Christ Jesus is intentional:
- In being nourished in God’s Word
- In how you live out your godliness before others
III. A Good Servant of Christ Jesus is intentional in sharing their faith with others because they have eternity in mind. (8-10)
exp.: rd v 10a; toil and strive; toil has to do with work/labor; it something we continually work at. No one really gets there this side of heaven. The Gk word here for ‘strive’ is the word from which we get our English word meaning to agonize. Think of that striving and straining in your exercise. Many people do exercise. I mean, they’re crazy about it.
ill.: Personally, I like to summit 14ers in Colorado. Someday, I hope to stand atop all 54. In order to climb a mountain, I have to be intentional about being in good physical condition when I go there. I hike and climb. I try to drop some pounds. I’m very intentional. I tell you – when you’re striving like that, you get your sweat on!
app.: Do the same for your spiritual training. Get that nourishment from God’s Word. Practice your godliness – work that out. And keep in mind that all of this is about your salvation and the salvation of others. We have set our hope on God… Hope doesn’t mean being wishful. It is certain knowledge of what is to come and knowing it will one day be.
- True godliness is deeply rooted in the Mystery of Christ (3.16). It is because of Christ’s work that we’re godly. So, nothing you do makes you godly. Only by what Christ has done are you godly. Please don’t confuse your ‘exercise’ and ‘nourishment’ as making you godly. With that in mind:
- We do what we do because of the hope we have – and the hope we want others to have.
- Your service – your godliness, born out of a life nourished in God’s Word and mentored by godly men and women, is a testimony to others.
- Your service isn’t ‘a work’ that makes you godly, but rather a result of your godliness.
- Being a good servant isn’t easy
- Personal nourishment is required, and this takes discipline
- From God’s Word (not Christian music; not inspirational stories)
- From those who’ve gone before
- Godliness is something you work out in your life.
- There is great value here and now.
- Personal nourishment is required, and this takes discipline
There is great value in the hereafter. – and this helps us with the big picture.