As a teacher of first graders, I cannot count how many times the parents of these impressionable little ones said to me, “Oh, I could never be a teacher!” “I don’t even want to be a teacher.” When I share who I am and what I do in public groups of people, sometimes the same response is given—unless I’m talking to another teacher! These declarations have always made me somewhat sad because people do not realize that ALL of us are teaching something to someone, good or bad, by how we live our lives. Yep, I said that out loud.
Granted, some of us are called and given unique abilities by God to teach. But before we are handed a classroom of students, we are required to work long hours reading, studying, and then practicing the art of teaching before earning the privilege to be a professional who is paid for teaching. Timothy is being mentored by Paul in much the same ways. He is to learn and keep learning as he teaches the Word correctly. “You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching.” Paul then builds on what Timothy learned as a child at his mother and grandmother’s knee and what every Jewish boy learns at the Synagogue. Paul mentors Timothy about the importance of continuing education! I love that!
“Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart.
Why is Paul so definite and determined about a disciplined life with God?
BecauseTimothy is being taught to teach people about the most important, loving, forever relationship they will have! What Timothy is learning to preach/teach will literally save people forever, plucking people from death to life with Christ! What Timothy will learn from Paul is reconciliation between God and mankind—by believing in Jesus who died for all sin. Yes, it is important to prepare for this calling knowing God will fully equip Timothy for His Kingdom work of pointing people to Jesus as Savior and Lord!
Timothy will teach people how to follow Jesus as Lord of their lives. But how?
Paul mentors his younger apprentice that his very life will teach what people will see and want to follow. Now we come full circle to where I began with this thinking. Our lives teach. People of all ages watch us whether we know it or not. We are always teaching something by the way we behave. People watch how we as believers respond to disappointments, losses, accidents, failure, betrayals, and gossip. People are watching to see if our belief matches our behavior and if our doctrine of love matches our demeanor. People have razor sharp attention to see if what we say we really believe is practiced without a second thought. This might be where the phrase, “Practice what you preach’ came into play! I’ve also heard, “Preach Jesus—and sometimes use words!” There is no doubt that our lives should proclaim the Gospel. But, we should also be able to articulate the Gospel to others. Learn and teach. Teach and learn.
So, in a sense, we are all teachers. So, we ask ourselves:
What am I teaching?
Am I still teachable? Do I think I have arrived? (Even Paul didn’t think that of himself!)
Am I still learning from God, His Word, and from those who know God and are learners, too?
Am I aware of those who are watching me—in hopes to see Jesus in me?
1 Timothy 4, The Message
Teach with Your Life
1-5 The Spirit makes it clear that as time goes on, some are going to give up on the faith and chase after demonic illusions put forth by professional liars. These liars have lied so well and for so long that they’ve lost their capacity for truth. They will tell you not to get married. They’ll tell you not to eat this or that food—perfectly good food God created to be eaten heartily and with thanksgiving by believers who know better! Everything God created is good, and to be received with thanks. Nothing is to be sneered at and thrown out. God’s Word and our prayers make every item in creation holy.
6-10 You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the followers of Jesus there, and you’ll be a good servant of Jesus. Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. This is why we’ve thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We’re banking on the living God, Savior of all men and women, especially believers.
11-14 Get the word out. Teach all these things. And don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed—keep that dusted off and in use.
15-16 Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes! Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don’t be diverted. Just keep at it. Both you and those who hear you will experience salvation.
Thank you for plucking Paul from who and where he was to who he became in you. Thank you for teaching him to pass on this teaching, YOUR teaching, to Timothy, Titus and others who passed it on to us! We truly must “immerse” ourselves in Your Word and apply it so that our lives reflect You more and more. Help us to “keep a firm grasp on our character and our teaching”, whether intentionally or unintentionally. We know that people are watching. May they see you in me. I’m listening and ready for the next lesson. I’m still want to learn from the Master Teacher—You! I know you are not finished with me yet! I also know that graduation takes place when I see you face to face!
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen