• “I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord who has strengthened me, because he considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry” (I Tim. 1:12 CSB).
Let’s focus on the phrase: “appointing me to the ministry.” Ministry is not something one chooses for himself. Rather as it is written in the Scriptures, it is an appointment by Christ Jesus our Lord. In other passages, Paul recounts his own divine appointment to the gospel ministry.
Today this calling must, of certainty, be a holy calling. It is not a job selected because family or friends said to you: “You would be good at this.” It is not a profession chosen because a standardized psychological instrument scored you high in the “interpersonal people area.” Paul’s thankfulness was a humble realization of his unworthiness to be called into ministry — not by his own choice but through the dynamic call from above.
Dear Pastor, give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord, who will strengthen you even on a dark and dismal Saturday night after your congregation’s strident committee meeting. Yes, He will strengthen you even on a Sunday afternoon following a less than outstanding sermon delivery and worship service. It is He who appointed you, and it is He who will complete the work He has called you to do!
• “But have nothing to do with pointless and silly myths” (I Tim. 4:7).
One Bible translation (KJV) uses these words: “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables.” Still another (NET) translates: “But reject those myths fit only for the godless and gullible…”
Dear Pastor, there are some things that are good for your ministry. There are some things that are not so good for your ministry. There are some myths floating around our world today that every pastor needs to shun. There are some pointless beliefs that are not worth giving the effort of your attention. Multiple untruthful and demonic teachings espoused by the “social gurus” have found root in many organizations. Those who propagate these teachings are hypocritical liars who profit from deceiving those who are silly enough to follow these myths.
On the other hand, pastoral nourishment comes from the words of faith and those words found in the Scriptures. Pastoral training focuses on godliness. Certainly, there are social, economic and even political needs to be addressed. Yet these are not the focus of the minister’s energy. Pastor, set your hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
• “Don’t be too quick to appoint anyone as an elder…” (I Tim. 5:22).
How does one become a pastor, preacher or minister? In some Christian traditions, one has to complete a degree in a seminary, serve as an apprentice, then is ordained, usually by a bishop of the denomination. Other traditions are somewhat less rigorous in ordination — one shares his calling with a local church and that church ordains him to the ministry, with no requirements of formal schooling or internship. No matter the process, it is a solemn and serious matter to be ordained.
Dear Pastor, treat it that way! You have been set apart for service of Christ and His church. The church has laid their hands on you as a confirmation of your calling. This is not some “job that you send off some money to be ordained from a magazine or TV ad.” The process of ordination is not to be hasty. The apostle warns of rushing to appoint a minister. This, of necessity, must be a two-pronged process. On the one hand, the one who wants to be a minister must search, and search diligently, his heart to make more than certain God has called to this task. The other part belongs to the church. Will this church be a partner in the minister’s work? It is almost like a marriage — both have to say: “I do, and I will.”
• “But you, man of God, flee from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness” (I Tim. 6:11).
Paul shifts abruptly to instruct the man of God to pursue some important things. He has already told Timothy to flee the love of money — the root of all kinds of evil. He lists those things the man of God is to pursue. The first is righteousness, which is virtue, blamelessness or decency. This is found in the life of Christ — emulate His life!
The second is godliness, which is placing heavenly and sacred filters on all that comes in and goes out of life. Faith is the third area the man of God is to pursue. Conviction and belief with assurance in the Lord Jesus whom you serve as minister is the key to this element of pursuit. The man of God is to pursue love, the fourth element, and it is not a silly starry-eyed love like that of an adolescent infatuation. It is the love of God who loved the unlovely with His grace. Next, the fifth element, the man of God is to pursue endurance, which means to go on to the end; to finish that which you started even with the last ounce of energy in your soul.
Finally, and the sixth area to pursue is gentleness. This is not to be confused with “being a sissy” or being a weak person; rather it takes a gentle man to be kind, tender and even moderate in desperate situations. What does it mean for the man of God to pursue these things? It means he follows these qualities of life like following a trail to hunt them down each and every day. He is engaged in these positive ministerial elements in daily practice. This allows the man of God to take hold of eternal life. Good Pastor, what are you pursuing?
• “…Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (II Tim. 1:2).
Those in regular and seasoned church attendance speak with words that are undecipherable to ordinary people who are outside the dedicated and systematic church attendance zone. There are three such words written in this passage: grace, mercy and peace. Note the source of these three — it is not of self, of the world or of social status, but rather from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
The first is grace, which is unearned favor from God to humankind. Grace can be akin to elegance and loveliness, for that is exactly what God offers us in His Son.
The second is mercy, which occurs when one who is far superior extends understanding toward the one who is inferior. For example, the healthy athlete could pulverize the pipsqueak in a fight, but chooses not to do so.
The third is peace, which is more than the absence of war but more the presence of all things good coming to life. It is the harmony of God with man, man with himself and man with neighbor. We all want a smooth road to drive, a calm sea to sail and clear skies to fly.
So, Dear Reader, will you accept the grace, mercy, and peace that comes from God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord?
• “But you have followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, and endurance…” (II Tim. 3:10).
A good mix of anything includes all of the intended and needed ingredients. The delicious cake includes all that is needed, mixed well and baked to perfection. The concrete structures that dot our world must have the appropriate mix of sand, gravel, water, steel and cement to be strong. If any one thing is left out of any mixture, the result can be tasteless, worthless and even disastrous.
In this verse, the Apostle Paul tells his protégé a mixture of life graces that are needed in the blend of Christian development. One of those requirements mentioned is endurance. Endurance can be seen as durability or staying power.
Good Reader, many come to the portals of Christianity, but soon drop out. They have no endurance that is much needed for the life journey. Perhaps the process of living got too weighty for them to support on their own strength. Self-strength endurance failed. The Christian journey ended quickly before it had time to be nurtured by His grace. Endurance is a key element in the mix of Christian venture. Without endurance one cannot continue on the path the Lord has laid out for each of us. Endurance is an element of survival for the Christian life. Mix it well in the bowl of prayer time and alone time with the Lord.
• “…Demas has deserted me, since he loved this present world, and has gone to Thessalonica.” (II Tim. 4:10).
The word “apostle” has a high meaning as it bespeaks of one who is chosen by God to do His work. The word “apostate” has a low meaning as it designates one who deserts the things of Christ and His church. Demas is one of those who was labeled apostate in his life choice. Paul said he had gone to Thessalonica. That town was a crossroads of commerce and government activity. It seemed more appealing to Demas to be there than to be with Paul and his work for the gospel. Good Reader, we might consider Demas for a moment lest we too make a similar decision and become apostate like him. Let’s not desert the Christian way. Let’s not go to Thessalonica. Let’s not love the present world. “For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions — is not from the Father, but is from the world” (I John 2:16).