Reading for Wednesday, Aug. 22: 1 Tim. 4
Several of our readings this year have reinforced the idea of “falling away”. Paul’s reflections at the beginning of 1 Timothy 4 is another such passage. Paul reminds Timothy of the Spirit’s warning, “that in later times some will depart from the faith,” (v1). Paul seems to specifically have in mind those who would minimize or even deny the “fleshly” blessings of marriage and food (v3). Paul’s comment in v4-5 reflects a deeply held Jewish conviction: “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” Echoing Psalm 24, Paul reinforces the created world as God’s domain for expressing His goodness toward us.
Lest we take this emphasis on materiality too far, though, Paul counters: “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come,” (v7-8). Paul’s sage advice to Timothy: avoid worthless controversies and put your full effort into something that counts – godliness! Why is godliness so important? It is for godliness we were created (Gen. 1:26-27).
Timothy is to oppose this false teaching in spite of his young age. “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” Paul continues, encouraging Timothy to devote himself to the ministry of the Word, teaching and studying and proclaiming Gospel truth. The stakes couldn’t be any higher, “for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers,” (v16).