Transforming Ordinary People into Extraordinary Followers of Christ

1st Timothy – Part 8 – What to Avoid – and What to be Absorbed In – July 9, 2017


Sermon Summary In 1 Timothy 4:7-16, Paul encourages Timothy to be a good servant of Jesus Christ, constantly nourishing himself and his congregation on Biblical truth. Paul provides some practical instructions in a list of “dos and don’ts”—positive and negative commands to help Timothy stay on track:

Negative Commands

  • Have nothing to do with worldly fables… (v.7)
  • Let no one look down on your youthfulness. (v.12)
  • Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you (v.14)
  • Do not sharply rebuke an older man (5:1-2) …rather appeal to him as a father.

Positive Commands

  • Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.
  • Prescribe and teach these things (v.11)
  • Show yourself an example of those who believe. (v.11)
  • Give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching (v.13)
  • Pay close attention to yourself and your teaching (v. 16)

Pastors are to avoid speculative arguments while promoting sound doctrine and spiritual discipline (vv. 7-11). Paul urged Timothy to get into the spiritual gymnasium. The word “discipline” is translated to “gymnazo.” It pictures an athlete preparing his body for competition. For Timothy, the training is spiritual, not physical, and his purpose is “godliness,” not physical fitness. Our incentive for pursuing godliness in this life is linked to the hope we have in Jesus Christ in the next life. Our lives have two phases. We are living now in phase one, which lasts 70-80 years. But life doesn’t end at the grave. When we die as Christians, we are ushered into phase two of our lives, and its duration is much, much longer. It is with this second phase of our life in view that we are labor and strive towards godliness.

At this point in his letter, Paul pauses and says to Timothy, “Prescribe and teach these things” (v. 11). Timothy was a relatively young man giving leadership to a more mature congregation; thus, he sometimes struggled with confidence. In addition, he probably felt inadequate to fill Paul’s shoes as a pastor. Timothy couldn’t control his age or the fact that he wasn’t Paul, so Paul encouraged him to focus on things he did have control over…his conduct and his character. Paul says that pastors are to focus on teaching and exercising their spiritual gifts while modeling a godly maturity that is beyond their years (vv. 12-14). Character speaks louder than age, much louder. That is true for us as well. You will be judged by your character. Are you trustworthy? Are you gracious? Do you do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it? Are you setting a good example for others? Do people see Jesus in you, or just you in you? Is your life worth emulating? These are important questions.

In verses 13-14, Paul advises Timothy on how he should conduct his ministry. He states, “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.” In the first century, most people were illiterate, and therefore depended upon public readings to hear God’s word. But Paul’s pastoral responsibilities did not stop at just reading the Scriptures. Using the Scriptures as his authority, he was to exhort and teach and instruct God’s people in God’s will and way. The pastor’s goal is to set God’s Word before God’s people in such a way that they know what God wants them to know, believe what He wants them to believe, and are motivated to do what he wants them to do. This involves teaching and exhortation. My effectiveness or ineffectiveness as your pastor is on display in your lives. It is one thing to teach God’s Word clearly, it is quite another to exhort you in a way that you are motivated to change—to imitate Christ. This is why we have an application/challenge every week, because God wants us to do something with what we have learned. He wants us to change! Paul concludes his list of do’s and don’ts with perhaps the most helpful positive command a young minister could receive: the result of such faithful leadership will result in successful ministry (vv. 15-16). It can be difficult to measure success in ministry. There are always things that you could do better. The work is never done, because none of us in this life will achieve perfect Christlikeness. Ultimately, the success of a ministry is up to God.

Here at TCC, we as a church body will continue to minister to each other and our neighbors with the same mission upon which we were originally founded: Together we are seeking to transform ordinary people into extraordinary followers of Christ.


  • Pray for the pastors and church staff—that they would faithfully pursue God, teach the Scriptures, and model godliness.
  • Pray for yourselves—that you would apply biblical truth and faithfully pursue God and godliness.
  • Develop a spiritual enrichment plan—regularly reading and studying the Scriptures, focus on application (using Talking Points, Walking Points), and by reading a good doctrine survey, such as: A Survey of Bible Doctrine by Charles C. Ryrie (ISBN: 978-0802484383, Check search link on Amazon.)  Christian Beliefs by Wayne Grudem (ISBN: 978-0310255994, Check search link on Amazon.) –  (TCC doesn’t manage links to external site resources so if link is broken we apologize but, please feel free to let us know:
  • If you would like to know God personally, contact us here ( Scroll down to the Ministry Information Request section and mark the first or second  checkbox. We look forward to helping!
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