September 27 — 1 Timothy 2 — Controversy. There is teaching in this chapter that might rub some of us the wrong way. I would just caution you to remember that this is the Word of God, not just a letter written by a man a long time ago in a different culture. When we read something in the Bible that we don’t like, our tendency is to either dismiss it or to find a way to explain it so it will fit into our own category of thinking or eliminate us from having to obey it. Be honest! Paul’s opening instruction in this chapter about the need for prayer, however, is not controversial. He uses four different words to express its different aspects: “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings” (v. 1). Pray for your government leaders today, even if they are on the other side of your political fence. It is for our benefit: “… that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life” (v. 2).
September 28 — 1 Timothy 3 — How to Behave. Timothy was a leader of church leaders. He was Paul’s representative to the church in Ephesus and its surrounding churches. In this chapter, Paul gave him a detailed list of the qualifications for the offices of overseer and deacon in the churches. His reason? So that, “you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God” (v. 15). These qualifications acknowledge a continuum of Christian maturity in the church. Paul is saying, “Pick your leaders from the best of the best.” How about the rest of us? Can we relax and not be that concerned about maturity? No, we should treat those listed qualifications as standards toward which all of us ought to be moving. This is how every believer “ought to behave.”
September 29 — 1 Timothy 4 — Removing Criticism. When Timothy was a young man, Paul presented a strange challenge to him: “Let no one despise you for your youth” (v. 12). Don’t let them? How does one go about stopping the criticism of others? Should we just tell them to stop it? That would probably give them more ammunition against us. No, Paul told Timothy that the way to remove criticism is to “set … an example” (v. 12) of doing what is right. That is not a one-time effort but a continuing endeavor: “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them” (v. 15). The stated reason for this effort is not just to be better but also “so that all may see your progress” (v. 15). They will see what you have gained and also how you are growing.
September 30 — 1 Timothy 5 — Proper Care. In this chapter, Paul’s concentration is on the church’s responsibility to provide financial care for two groups of people: widows and elders. Support is needed for the elders (or pastors) because “The laborer deserves his wages” (v. 18) and aid is required for the widows because they are “truly widows” (v. 3) without any other means of support. There was one statement about widows that particularly struck me, which applies just as well to all of us: “… she who is self-indulgent [‘lives for pleasure’—NIV] is dead even while she lives” (v. 6). By giving in to self-indulgence, the intention is to satisfy one’s emotional and physical nature but its ultimate result is to deteriorate one’s spiritual well-being. So, not only should the church focus on the proper care of widows and elders but all believers should concentrate on taking care of their own personal spiritual welfare.
October 1 — 1 Timothy 6 — Dangerous Detours. Paul warns of two things in this chapter that threaten our faith. The first is any kind of “knowledge” that is not in line with God’s truth (v. 3). Ideas promoted by unbelievers, that in order to be able to accept, you have to reinterpret God’s Word, are concepts toward which “some have swerved from the faith” (v. 21) to embrace. We must honestly measure the world’s ideas against the timeless standard of Scripture. The second threat to our faith comes from “the love of money,” through which “some have wandered away from the faith” (v. 10). Rather than desiring wealth, we should be desiring godliness (v. 6). The desire to be knowledgeable and to be rich are two very common temptations that draw us. We must be aware that they are serious threats to our spiritual health and avoid them as dangerous detours.