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Day 331 – Thru the Bible
Today we complete First Timothy.
1 Timothy 5 – Paul provides the church godly relational wisdom that spans across age and gender. How beautiful is the church who knows who they are, and then treat one another as loving fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters. Such a graced family knows how to “behave in the household of God.” This is the gracious conduct that adorns the Gospel.
Next follows extended advice regarding the care of widows. First, Paul discusses the care of widows who qualify by their poverty and godliness and childlessness. They are “truly widows” and, as such, are to receive “honor”—that is, they are to be cared for by the church.
Second, regarding the care of widows who have children, Paul says, “But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness [note that word] to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.” The purpose of Paul’s carefully targeted advice was that, as the church body cared for its childless widows, and as children meanwhile shouldered their sacred responsibilities to their widowed mothers and grandmothers, the church’s testimony brightened before the pagan world.
In its essence, grace is God providing the spiritual rescue we cannot provide for ourselves. This care for those who truly cannot provide for themselves demonstrates the principles of the Gospel for both those in and those outside of the church. This Gospel testimony was further strengthened by the careful selection and enrollment of older widows to extend the caring ministries of the church. Such “godliness” radiated the gospel’s light.
Paul addresses the care and maintenance of elders with explicit instructions as to their remuneration, their discipline, and their selection. Such counsel, prayerfully applied, helps keep the church centered on Jesus.
How do these instructions benefit the church and proclaim the Gospel?
1 Timothy 6 – Paul addresses Christian slaves, exhorting them to a work ethic that honors unbelieving masters in such a way that “the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.” This is, moreover, an ethic that respects and serves Christian masters all the more since those who benefit “are believers and beloved.”
Clearly, Paul is calling for godly conduct that elevates the name of Jesus and generates praise for the Gospel both in the church and in the world. He is also subtly undermining any unfair or unkind behavior of believing masters by reminding Christian slaves not to be slack in service or respect on the premise that the believing masters are merely “brothers,” a designation that simultaneously reminds masters to treat their servants as “brothers” in Jesus (Ephesians Philemon , ).;
In a culture where these relationships are normal, Paul is not speaking to the issue of slavery, but is speaking to how to live within those relationships. In our culture, we can equate this to our work environments.
Paul warns against anyone who teaches “a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness.” Teaching that goes against Jesus’ teaching will reveal its ugly self in ungodly behavior.
Paul concludes verse 5 by noting that the ungodly imagine that “godliness is a means of gain.” Then he adds, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
Thus, another warning: those who desire to be rich, who love money, will depart from the faith. The Gospel and greed are mutually exclusive. This accords with Jesus’ teaching that, “You cannot serve God and money” (Luke 16:13). Let those who claim the Gospel, and who revel in grace, and want to be rich—beware! The greatest riches in the universe are in Jesus, and in the Gospel that proclaims His grace to us.
Paul begins his closing words to Timothy with an eloquent charge toward godliness. Timothy is to “pursue” the virtues toward which God summons us. But this is not a godliness devoid of the Gospel of grace. Rather, this is itself the life of faith: “Fight the good fight of the faith.” There can be no fulfilling of the Gospel ministry without godliness and its attendant virtues, all of which arise from the beauty of the Gospel, as we behold Jesus, the mystery of godliness (3:16).
How does this encourage you as you walk with Jesus in the power of His Gospel?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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