This Father’s Day, we’re going to look at being a man. Masculinity is under attack in America. Just do an Internet search on “masculinity” and see how many times the term “toxic masculinity” pops up; but masculinity can be a good thing when understood properly and when taught to boys and teenagers.
So what exactly is masculinity? What does it mean to be a man? Does it mean bullying people and picking fights? Does it mean talking tough, driving a jacked up truck, and knowing how to shoot a gun? Does it mean having your way with women and demeaning them? It’s important to think about masculinity, because how we act as a man – and as a Father – is the example that we’re going to be passing on to our children. If we set a bad example, then our son could become a jerk; and our daughter could wind up marrying a jerk, as she wants to be with someone like her daddy.
In our passage today, we’re going look at the advice that Paul gave to young Timothy on how to “be a man of God.” I must note that a man of God – how he lives and what he stands for – is so much different than what the world envisions as being a man. So, let’s get started by looking at our main passage of Scripture; and I want to invite you to stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word.
The True Man of God (vv. 6-12, 20-21)
6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses . . . 20 O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – 21 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.
Back in 1 Timothy 4:16, Paul addressed the matter of false teachers, and he gave counsel to young Timothy, saying, “take heed to yourself,” which means to “watch your life,” according to the New International Version. While caring for the needs of his people, Timothy needed to care for himself as well. In verses 6-10, Paul warned Timothy that there were some around him who were teaching false doctrine, telling people what they wanted to hear, so they would be more likely to give money to their corrupt ministries. They “strayed from the faith in their greediness,” as Paul said (v. 10); and because of bad motives, they shared bad information.
False teachers were men of the world, but according to 1 Timothy 6:11, Timothy was a “man of God.” This special designation, “man of God,” was also given to Moses (Deuteronomy 33:1), Samuel (1 Samuel 9:6), Elijah (1 Kings 17:18), and King David (Nehemiah 12:24); so, Timothy was in good company. In this passage, Paul provides four admonitions to Timothy that, if obeyed, would assure him of success in his ministry and a continued testimony as a “man of God” – four admonitions that can help each of us in becoming the men and leaders (and even the fathers) that God desires.
Flee False Teachers (v. 11a)
The first admonition that Paul gave the true man of God is to “Flee.” In verse 11, he said, “But you, O man of God, flee these things.” “There are times when running away is a mark of cowardice. ‘Should such a man as I flee?’ asked Nehemiah (Nehemiah 6:11). But there are other times when fleeing is a mark of wisdom and a means of spiritual victory.”(1) For example, “Joseph fled when he was tempted by his master’s wife (Genesis 39:12), and David fled when King Saul tried to kill him (1 Samuel 19:10).”(2)
“The [Greek] word ‘flee’ that Paul used here did not refer to literal running, but to Timothy separating himself from the sins of the false teachers”(3) – to separate himself from those whom he called “men of corrupt minds” in 1 Timothy 6:5. From such a person you, as a man of God, should flee. In 1 Corinthians 15:33, Paul said, “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits,” and in 2 Corinthians chapter six, the apostle said, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? . . . Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord” (2 Corinthians 6:14, 17).
Paul wasn’t saying that you should run from your responsibility to share the gospel with unbelievers. He was speaking of distancing yourself from those who would influence you in a negative way; and especially from those claiming to be believers, who were teaching false doctrine. “There are times when a servant of God should take a stand against false doctrine and godless practices, and separate themselves from [these things].”(4) It is important to set an example that purity is of significant value. It is also important to make sure that you’re not picking up on bad habits that you could unknowingly pass on to other believers; especially your own children.
Follow After Righteousness (v. 11b)
The second admonition that Paul gave the true man of God is to “Follow.” In the second half of verse 11, he told Timothy to “pursue” six specific things. The King James Version says to “follow after” these six things. The Greek word translated to “follow” or “pursue” is very strong. It means to run after; to run swiftly after; to hotly pursue; and to seek eagerly and earnestly. It has the idea of aiming at and pursuing until something is gained; of never giving up until we have reached our intended goal. I like the idea of “hotly pursue,” as it reminds me of Rosco P. Coletrane on “The Dukes of Hazzard,” who would say, “I’m in hot pursuit!”
According to Paul, the six qualities that the man of God should hotly pursue are righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. The word “righteousness means ‘personal integrity.’ Godliness means [practical religious conduct] . . . Faith might be better translated ‘faithfulness.’ It has well been said that the greatest ability is dependability. Love is the ‘agape love’ that sacrifices for the sake of others. It seeks to give, not to gain. Patience carries the idea of ‘endurance,’ sticking to it when the going [gets] tough . . . Meekness is not weakness, but instead is ‘power under control’ . . . Perhaps [the word] ‘gentleness’ expresses the meaning best.”(5) Just consider how modeling these six qualities could affect those whom we lead and our own children.
Make a mental note of these qualities. There are only six: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness; and then after noting them, ask, “Am I demonstrating these qualities in my own life?” If the answer is “No,” you need to ask, “Why am I not demonstrating them?” In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul noted some similar qualities, manifesting as spiritual fruit, and he suggested that we will demonstrate such things when we have the Holy Spirit abiding in our life. He said, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control.” There is no more practical advice in the Bible than what we find in 2 Corinthians 13:5, where Paul stated, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.”
Fight for the Faith (v. 12)
The third admonition that Paul gave the true man of God is to “Fight.” This has nothing to do with getting into a fist fight or being a bully. In verse 12, Paul said, “Fight the good fight of faith.” “The [Greek] verb [for fight] actually means ‘keep on fighting!’ It is a word from which we get our English word ‘agonize,’ and it applies both to athletes and to soldiers. It described a person straining and giving his best to win the prize or win the battle.”(6) The true nature of the Christian life is that it is a battlefield; and unfortunately, there will never be a ceasefire. You must be ready at all times to fight for the faith; to fight for what you believe in. If you are walking in the Spirit in such a way that you exude righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness, then you will be prepared in your heart to fight spiritual battles on behalf of the Lord.
In Ephesians 6:10-13, we are reminded of how we have been called and equipped to fight in spiritual warfare. We read, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” – and if we continue reading the passage, we are told of the specific pieces of the armor that we must take up and wear.
Near the end of his life, Paul wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Commentator William Barclay says, “When the Roman soldier joined the army, he took the sacramentum, the oath of loyalty to his Emperor . . . that he [would be] faithful unto death.”(7) He continues to say that in the same way, “The Christian too must be loyal to Jesus Christ, through all the chances and the changes of life, down even to the gates of death.”(8) True men of God are called to strive and agonize for the prize unto the very last breath. Consider the example that you are setting when people see your tenacity and persistence in standing for the faith; and think of how it will positively affect your children as they are faced with life’s challenges.
Be Faithful Always (vv. 20-21)
The final admonition that Paul gave the true man of God is to “Be Faithful.” In verse 20, he said, “O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust.” “God had committed the truth to Paul (1 Tim. 1:11), and Paul had committed it to Timothy. It was Timothy’s responsibility to guard the deposit and then pass it along to others who would, in turn, continue to pass it on (2 Tim. 2:2) . . . We are stewards of the doctrines of the faith, and God expects us to be faithful in sharing His good news” with the lost.(9) He also expects us to be diligent in mentoring young people in the faith, which includes our own children. But before we can be faithful at passing it on, we must be faithful in preserving the truth, making sure that it remains untainted by avoiding idle babblings and false teachings.
So, why must men of God avoid babblings and false teachings? Because Paul warns us that “some who got involved in them wandered [or strayed] from the faith. Not only will wrong motives, [such as] a desire for money, cause a person to wander from the faith (1 Tim. 6:10), but so will wrong teachings. These lies work their way into a person’s mind and heart gradually, and before he realizes it, he is wandering off the path of truth.”(10) In the same passage on “The Fruit of the Spirit,” in Galatians chapter five, Paul said, “Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:7-9). It only takes a small amount false teaching to infiltrate and take over the entire mind. That’s the reason why true men of God are always careful to be faithful to the truth.
Time of Reflection
Men, I want to encourage you this morning to hold on dearly to the four commands given to young Timothy – and to each of us. They are admonitions designed to help us in becoming the men and leaders (and even the fathers) that God desires. We are to “flee from false teachers and false doctrine.” We are to “follow after righteousness,” to “fight the good fight, standing for our faith,” and we are to be “faithful to the truth of God’s Word.” Men, as leaders of the church and our families, we must heed the words of the apostle; and pray that we finish in strength and victory the race that lies before us.
So, what do we find at the end of the race? We read in Hebrews 12:1-2, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” At the end of the race lies the finish line of heaven where Jesus, our Savior, is presently seated and waiting for us.
Jesus entered into glory after having endured the cross. He went to the cross for you and me, to pay the penalty for our sins; and He rose from the grave victorious over sin and death. We read in Romans 6:4, “that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” We can be raised into new life, just as Christ was raised, if we will trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Romans 10:9-10 tells us how. We read, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” So, right now, I want to extend an invitation for you to walk the aisle and confess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord today.
(1) Warren Wiersbe, “The Complete New Testament in One Volume,” The Wiersbe Bible Commentary (Colorado Springs, Colorado: David C. Cook, 2007), p. 768.
(2) Ibid., p. 768.
(3) Ibid., p. 768.
(4) Ibid., p. 768.
(5) Ibid., p. 768.
(6) Ibid., p. 768.
(7) William Barclay, “The Letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon,” The Daily Bible Study (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1960), p. 184.
(8) Ibid., p. 184.
(9) Wiersbe, p. 769.
(10) Ibid., p. 770.