As a leader, the apostle Paul needed to address big yet simple questions. How do Christians prepare themselves for godly service? His first letter to Timothy reveals one of his solutions.
Given our hectic American lifestyle, we need a simple practical plan for embedding his solution into our daily routine. We need more than simply knowing what is helpful.
It is not hard to imagine Timothy reading Paul’s letter for the first time. In the first six verses of what we call chapter 4, Paul had just described a necessary assignment promoting the church’s health. But it was also what most people would regard as an unpleasant task.
Immediately those words flowed into what had prepared Timothy to undertake serving God in this manner: “having nourished yourself on the words of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed” (1 Timothy 4:6).
In the original language, the participle “nourishing” communicates a lot. Being in the middle voice, it reveals both Timothy’s deliberate activity to nourish as well as him being the recipient of that enrichment. Being in the aorist tense, it describes this activity as having preceded the time of the main verb. Hence, “having nourished yourself.”
Of course Timothy was also surrounded by junk food, like the popular cutting edge ideas in his day called myths (1 Timothy 4:7). He was to reject such malnourishment.
Timothy was prepared to serve God because God’s word had been embedded within him and he had actively put good teaching into practice. Word and deed had equipped Timothy for godly service.
If we wish to be ready to serve our Lord, one aspect of becoming equipped involves digesting scripture. It needs to fill our hearts as we then live out its message. We can’t be hearers only. This is more than just knowing truth.
Starting a daily Bible reading habit is a first step. And this might be no easy task. The hurdles might seem endless. Our mind might insist upon wandering elsewhere. Here’s some baby steps that can lead to victory.
- Identify Your Trigger
A trigger provides us with a flag interrupting our normal routine. It provides us with the brief opportunity to choose to act.
Since many of us probably watch TV in the evening, the TV remote might be a great trigger. When we see it or pick it up, we can be reminded, “I could read one chapter of the Bible.”
- Unleash Your Craving
Often we watch TV in order to relax, forget the day’s stresses or solve a mystery. Seeing our trigger can start us drooling for God’s word much like Pavlov’s bells affected his dogs.
One chapter is often very short, just one or two sides of a page! This won’t take but just a few minutes!
We all want to relax. One chapter might be just what the doctor ordered for re-centering our lives. God’s word can place our daily stresses in a healthy perspective unleashing a profound relaxation.
One chapter might provide the tools needed to wisely make a decision between what is merely good and what is best or it might strengthen us against temptation’s call.
Furthermore, one chapter can be our next step toward acquiring a peace that passes all understanding as we grow in Christ. A chapter a day can lead to developing a craving for the pure spiritual milk of God’s word.
- Celebrate Victory
Plan to reward your success for completing a week of reading God’s word with something that you really love. Might you reward yourself with a cup of tea as you watch a sunset? Do you get a round of golf?
By starting with the baby step of merely one chapter, we can discover that this is something we can do. Furthermore, with both the intrinsic rewards from meditating on God’s word coupled together with our periodic celebrations, this craving might even grow into multiple chapters!
Like Timothy, we are surrounded by junk food. It can come in the form of social media, our friends’ thinking, the printed page, television or the internet. We would do well to reject ingesting junk food as we prepare ourselves for godliness by ingesting God’s word and then living out what we know to do.