v1-6 - Remember that 1 Timothy is classified as a Pastoral Epistle, or in other words, a letter written to an early church pastor with instructions for how to build the church. Chapter four opens with a reminder that the Church always has been, and always will be (until Christ returns) under attack from deceiving spirits and teachings from hypocritical liars. There are seasons like what we're in now, where those who wish the church harm are bold and easy to spot, and there are other times where the attacks are more subtle.
Often times, these false teachers are marked by either:
adding all sorts of obscure lifestyle rules that are not prescribed in the Bible (v3-5);
subtracting all sorts of moral commands found in the Bible and applicable to God's people both in the Old and New Testaments. Paul doesn't mention this aspect in this chapter, but it's referred to often in the New Testament, and is the more common type of false teacher we face today.
v7-10 - Rather than gorge on religious junk food ("godless myths and old wives' tales"), you are to:
Train yourself to be Godly.
This is one of the most important commands in the Bible. Unfortunately, it's also one of the most ignored.
We tend to get so wrapped up in the busyness of life (which, as Paul points out in v8, has "some value") that we have no time or energy left to invest in things that hold promise both now and in the life to come.
Like physical training, there are no 'get fit quick' plans that can help you 'become spiritually disciplined in three easy steps.'
Doing this is hard work, something we are to "labor and strive" towards.
As a reminder, there are three key disciplines that you must be practicing: Reading the Bible, praying, and participating regularly in gathered worship. Doing these things at a minimum will naturally lead you into many other disciplines. For a quick reminder overview on Spiritual Disciplines, watch this 16 minute video.
v11-16 - It may seem like this final passage is directed only at Pastor Timothy, or maybe just minsters in general, but it has a big application for all Christians.
The main imperative is for pastors to make "the public reading of scripture, preaching and teaching" the primary focus of their work, or as Paul puts it, "to give yourself wholly to."
This is a needed reminder, because just like with any vocation, there's always a thousand never ending details that demand attention which decreases the time and energy being spent on the main thing.
But this passage is more that just advice on time management for pastors.
All three of those commands - public reading, preaching & teaching - require two way communication: a reader/preacher/teacher AND listeners/learners. ALL of us must be involved!
Pastors spend the week preparing to read, preach and teach. You spend your week in the vocation you've been called to AND preparing to listen and be taught on the Lord's Day. This means not overscheduling yourself so that you're exhausted on Sunday and knowing your Bible well so that you can push your spiritual training even farther.
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE: Psalm 37 gives both comfort in the chaos of life as well as encouragement to grow in your spiritual strength.
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: Paul mentions a number of ways in which Timothy should set an example for the believers. How many of them can you name? (See verse 12.)
In the final verse, Paul commands Timothy to "watch his life and doctrine closely." What's the relationship between these two things?
Question 1 taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God, who created all things good (v4) and who provides for all people (v10)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask God to give you the endurance to train yourself for Godliness (v7)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: