As I look at the whole of this chapter, the words resonate with me, and it shows me just how powerful these words Paul gave to Timothy were.
They were words that challenged Timothy to be the leader in the church God had called him to be. And they are words that everyone who is a pastor needs to take to heart.
What did Paul say?
First, he charged Timothy to teach the church the Word of God. In a world where teaching was becoming corrupt, where what was good was taught to be evil, and what was evil was taught to be good, Paul laid out clearly what was truly good. And he told Timothy,
If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. (6)
In other words, “Do you want to be a good minister of Christ, Timothy? Then lay out the truth of God before this flock he has put under your charge.”
He makes this much stronger in verse 11, where he charges Timothy,
Command and teach these things.
Teach what things? Teach godliness. Teach about the hope we have in God, who saves all who believe.
But in doing so, Timothy was not to teach from his own wisdom, but to make God’s wisdom the center of all he taught.
Paul told him,
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. (13)
Often times, pastors teach a lot of good things, even godly things, but the center of their message is not scripture, but their own thoughts and experiences. But Paul says, “Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture. Make Scripture your starting point, and then from there preach and teach what God has said. Don’t simply preach and teach your opinions.”
But not only was he to teach these things, he was to live them as well. Paul told Timothy,
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. (12)
Timothy was young compared to some of the people in his congregation. But Paul said, “Young or not, you be an example to the people in your church. Be an example in what you say, how you live, how you love, in the faith you proclaim, and in your purity of life.”
Perhaps some of the false teachers were trying to shout Timothy down. To intimidate him into silence because of his youth. But Paul reminded him that the gift he had came from God, and he was to use it. (14)
And then he told Timothy,
Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. (14-15)
In short, be diligent in teaching God’s word. Be diligent in practicing godliness. Immerse yourself in these things, so that people can see that you too are growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ, and follow your example.
Finally, Paul concludes,
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (16)
Here Paul reminds Timothy to be vigilant. To guard against temptation that would bring him down, and to be sure to teach what is right. Why? Because as a leader and pastor, his influence was an immense responsibility. And by doing these things, he not only would save himself, but the flock God gave him. But if he didn’t he could bring down the flock with him, and God would hold him to account for it.
It is no light thing to be a pastor. Only those so called should become pastors. And for those who have been called, it would be well to remember Paul’s words to the Corinthians.
Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. (I Corinthians 4:2)
How about you? Are you proving faithful?