Summary: Stir up your gift and study!
Use It Or Lose IT!
My son is studying Kinesiology and double majoring in sports medicine. So much for like father; like son. I consider sports to be a major waste of time. Nonetheless, my son’s goal is to be a personal trainer and one day own a health club that will put the rest to shame. Of course, I wish him well, if this is the career that God has chosen for him.
My son would tell you that you have to use it or lose it. You must continue to exercise or your muscles will atrophy making you lose anything that you had gained. You must also continue to increase your reps or intensity or you will soon reach a plateau. The same holds true in the spiritual world. A Christian must always be moving forward. A plateau or an extended rest stop is the first stage toward what we call backsliding.
People may build themselves up to the point where they look like Arnold or Arlene Schwartzenegger, but let them quit their routine and they will start to deteriorate. A Christian who loses his first love and neglects his spiritual training will do likewise.
Turn with me to 1 Timothy 4:11-16. Paul is instructing his son in the faith. In verse 11, Paul tells him that what he teaches Timothy, he is to command and teach. Timothy needed to use the authority of the Scriptures and of his position.
11 These things command and teach.
12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
Timothy was only twenty-one and pastor of the First Church of Ephesus. This was quite an accomplishment and a rarity for the culture. In the Jewish mind, a boy did not become a man until he was thirty and married. Timothy was nine years younger and single. Timothy surely felt some stress from this and maybe even felt a bit inadequate.
He must have expressed this to Paul at some point or Paul discerned it. Some folks in the church might not have respected this young upstart. How could such a child minister to them? He’ll be too busy chasing a wife to be able to do the ministry. Besides, how can a single man understand and counsel me in my marriage? Makes you wonder if they were Baptist. C] ;-)}|>
When I graduated from college in 1982, I was too young for the churches. I was only thirty. I had spent eight years in the USAF. I had been married twelve years and had two children. I graduated with honors and had some good references. I had been serving in varied areas of ministries for seven years, but I was still five years too young. Also, I had not received any pay for my ministry and that bothered some folks. I guess volunteer service is not as qualifying as paid. I did not receive my title Reverend until a few years later and everyone knows you aren’t a real preacher without that.
I guess I understand why the Lord led Paul to write the pastoral qualifications down in 1Timothy 3. Although, I reckon many churches feel like God left a few things out so they were glad to help Him out and add quite a few of their own. Yep, poor Timothy had to deal with many issues just like preacher boys do today. "Papa" Paul had to encourage him to speak with the authority of the Scripture. If it was Scripture, then Timothy was to command/declare and teach it allowing no man to despise him because of his youth. (Vs. 12)
Now, he could not just swing his Bible in the air, bang the pulpit and tell them they could not go up against God’s man. He was to be an example to the believers. He was to stand out among them as a scar that cannot be hid. He was to model what he taught or as we would say, lead by example. He had to be that example in his lifestyle, which is what conversation means. We have reduced the word conversation to just our talk, but in that day it was your talk and your walk. Yes, he was to command and teach the word, but he had to walk the word. Tough at any age, but to be twenty-one and already an object of criticism before you ever say or do anything puts some pressure on you that only the power of the Spirit and walking in the resurrected life of Christ could relieve and achieve.
He was to be an example of love or charity. Here is another word that we have robbed the fullness of its meaning and reduced it to receiving financial relief or material goods when we are in bad times. We want to give charity, but we do not want to be charitable or loving. Charity was meant to involve the giving of your rather than the giving of things. He was to be available to his people as Christ is always available.