Let me just shoot it to you straight: I have been struggling lately; struggling to the extent of not being able to sleep and having mild anxiety attacks. Why? The enemy. Satan himself has reeked havoc on my soul the past week as a result of something I read. But, God has used this for His good and for His glory. Praise His name! The Lord has used this time to reconfirm to me the importance of His calling on my life.
I'm afraid I've been guilty of allowing the opinions of others to shape and determine some of the choices I've made or not made. Have you ever had those moments when you've based a decision on what you think would please someone in your life? My friends, let me tell you, I WAS NOT put on this earth to please those around me. I was put on this earth to serve God Almighty and please Him in all that I do. I've come to the conclusion that what others think about me or what I do matters not one bit if I'm doing what God has called me to do.
Man, woman, boy and girl, God has called you for a specific purpose. In the midst of this struggle the Lord brought me to 1 Timothy 4 and then confirmed to me, through a friend, that this is where I was to be right now in His Word. The entire chapter is full of golden nuggets of Truth, but the words that spoke to my heart the most were found within verses 12-16.
"12) Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young,
but set an example for the believers in speech,in life, in love, in faith and in purity.13) Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture,
to preaching and to teaching.14) Do not neglect your gift, which was given you
through a prophetic message when thebody of elders laid their hands on you.
15) Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them,so that everyone may see your progress.16) Watch your life and doctrine closely.
Persevere in them, because if you do, you will saveboth yourself and your hearers."1 Timothy 4:12-16, NIV
The culture of young Timothy's day placed great value on age and experience. At this time in Timothy's ministry he was in his early thirties, still considered to be a "young man" in his day. Because of his young age he would have to earn the respect of others by being a Godly example, of which I might add, meant he had to know his Scripture and doctrine. Timothy had been with Paul for many years and had many years of experience and learning under his belt. By all intents and purposes, he was mature both spiritually and experientially. Paul encouraged Timothy to not let the opinions of others concerning his age get to him, but rather to hold his head up proudly and continue on in the work that he had been called to.
Paul listed five areas in which Timothy was to be an example to the believers, those who made up his local body of believers and those he would come in contact with outside the church. Timothy was to be a Godly example through the words that he spoke, the way he behaved, his selfless love for others and sacrificial service to them, his faithfulness to both God and the body, and through the purity of his life, especially dealing with sexual matters.
Until Paul returned to Ephesus, Timothy was to continue on in the studying, reading of, and teaching of God's Word, both for his own personal benefit and the benefit of those in the church. Timothy was to read God's Word in public settings, challenging others with the truths contained within, leading them to the application of the Word for their own personal lives, rebuking, encouraging and warning, if need be, and he was to systematically teach doctrine.
Why was Timothy to be actively serving the church? Because he had been given a gift; he had been given a gift of leadership and teaching. For him to deny this gift and set it aside would have been a denial of the power of God in his life and a rejection of the task that God had called him to. At the moment of salvation, God gives to all believers a God-designed, Spirit-empowered spiritual gift fashioned, with a purpose, for that particular believer. That gift is meant to be used to edify the body of Christ and to expand His kingdom. Your gifts are not my gifts and my gifts are not your gifts, each has it's own purpose, but all are meant to work together (1 Corinthians 12). Paul specifically said to Timothy, "do not neglect the gift that is in you."
Paul encouraged Timothy to give of himself entirely to the the service he had been called to, and to the Scriptures. By immersing himself into the Word of God, his growth and knowledge would be evident to all. This growth and knowledge was not meant to be used by Timothy as a bragging chip, but is was to be used to win others to the Lord.
Not only was Timothy to continue in the reading of God's Word and teaching of the truth's contained within, but he, himself, was to be doing some in-depth study of God's Word. I love how the NKJV words verse 16: "Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you." Timothy was to be retaining God's Word because it was ever before him, and paying careful attention to it's teachings. Evidence of a Godly leader is the fact that he/ she is heeding to the teaching of God's Word in his/her own life.
Because of Timothy's careful attention to the Word of God, his commitment to the calling God had placed on his life, and his faithful and accurate teaching of God's Word, he would continue to be the instrument God used to bring others to Himself.
So what does all this mean to me right now? What has God spoken to me through this trial?
~1. The opinions of others matter not if they aren't based upon God's Word.
~2. God desires to use my experiences to teach the body of Christ.
~3. I am to be serving actively my local body of believers.
~4. God has called me to a ministry greater than myself.
~5. I have been given a God-designed, Spirit-empowered gift that I am to be using to edify the body of Christ.
~6. If I am not involved in in-depth study of God's Word, what am I going to teach others?
~7. To deny God's gift in my life and refuse to use it for His glory is ignorant.
~8. What I believe MUST be based upon God's Word!
~9. Within the Christian realm we are so afraid to call a spade a spade in fear of hurting some one's feelings, or sounding judgmental. We always preface things with, "I'm not saying this to hurt your feelings," or "I don't want to sound like I'm being judgmental," or "I can't say anything because it's not my place." People, that's part of the reason we as Christians are in the shape we are in today. We tip-toe around, afraid we're going to say something offensive, and end up allowing our brothers and sisters to continue on, not only in sin, but also down paths of false teachings. Have mercy!
~10. It's more important to stand on God's Word, than place my faith in my own opinions or the opinions of others.
And last, but definitely not least- My desire is to be used by God is mighty ways; in the lives of my family, my church, and in this world, I am at His service. He is my passion. He is my life. Nothing matters more to me than knowing that I am doing what He has called me to do. Nothing is more important to me than using the God-designed, Spirit-empowered gifts that I have been given to bring honor and glory to His name.