In our course, “The Integration of Theology and Psychology,” Dr. Allan McKechnie and I have been discussing the doctrine of salvation and its implications for counselors who are Christians. One aspect of salvation is the continuing work of God the Holy Spirit in making us like Christ. This doctrine is called SANCTIFICATION. The word means “being set apart” or “being made holy.”
I believe I Timothy 4 presents us with ten very specific steps we may take to advance in our becoming like Christ. Let’s look at that passage and continue investigating those ten steps.
I Timothy 4 says,
7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.
11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
The FIRST STEP we saw in this text was simply: PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU AVOID (v. 7)
The SECOND STEP we notice is: TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN SPIRITUAL LIFE (v. 7)
The THIRD STEP we see is: INVEST IN THIS LIFE AND THE NEXT (v. 8)
The FOURTH STEP here in this text is: REST ON WHAT IS WORTHY OF YOUR TRUST (v. 9)
The FIFTH STEP we see in this passage is simply: WORK HARD IN YOUR LIFE OF FAITH IN THE LORD (v. 10)
The SIXTH STEP Paul gives us here is BOLDLY PROCLAIM THE TRUTH WITH YOUR WORDS AND LIFE (vv. 11-12)
The SEVENTH STEP which helps us to become spiritual is DEVOTE YOURSELF TO THE WORD OF GOD AND THE USE OF YOUR GIFT (vv. 13-14)
We read in verses 13-14 the following: 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
Devotion seems to be a rare commodity these days. What do we mean when we say someone is “devoted”? I think that they are determined, committed, single-minded, focused. Paul admonishes Timothy to give his energies and attention to the TRUTH of the Scriptures, specifically to the public reading, preaching, and teaching of them.
I once served on a committee which judged high school students’ public reading of Scripture. Their readings were excellent, emphasizing the tone and force of the various Bible passages they were each assigned. We need to recover a thirst for hearing God’s Word read aloud to us!
Paul also exhorts Timothy to not neglect the spiritual gift which he received when the body of elders laid hands on him. Spiritual gifts — those abilities to serve God and God’s people — are described in four places in the New Testament: Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and I Peter 4. If you are a believer in Christ, do you know what your spiritual gift is? If so, are you neglecting it?
1. What are some reasons that we don’t get excited about the public reading of the Scriptures? What can you do practically to overcome that reluctance in your local church?
2. Do you know what your spiritual gift is — and are you using it?