Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, September 4. 2011
1 Timothy 4:1-16, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. These things command and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 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.
What does a good servant of the Lord, a godly church leader, NEED to be fit or fitted, to be equipped to lead in his marriage, in his family, and in God’s church?
That question may sound like typical ‘preacher’ ‘sermon intro’ kind of question, coming at the subject of church and family leadership from a purely academic point of view. But, listen. Have you looked around you lately? Paul’s words about the perilous times, the dangerous days yet to come, we’re living in them! They’re here! Don’t believe me? Take a look at the condition of families and marriages, your family and your marriage. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the church, yes, even this church.
An introductory question like the one I posed, what a man, a servant of the Lord, needs to be equipped to lead his wife, his children and his fellow believers, that question is no longer purely academic, it is a matter of extreme urgency.
We’re talking about the PRIORITIES, no the ‘maybes’ or the ‘could bes’, but the ‘must bes’ of godly manhood. You remember the quips, don’t you? ‘As the husband goes, so goes the ______.’ ‘As the father goes, so go the ________.’ ‘As the shepherd goes, so go the ______.’ Godly leadership, and what it takes to do it, to be a godly leader in one’s marriage, to one’s children, in God’s church, is no longer optional, or simply a matter of classroom discussion. No! It is an urgent necessity!
So, what DOES a man need to lead, to give, to guide his family, and God’s flock? Used to, we might have thought that all he needs to get the job done is an extra bowl of Wheaties, or perhaps an additional slice of Wonder Bread. But listen, that won’t cut it in the perilous latter days scenario Paul describes here. No! Remember? The man of God, seeking to lead his wife to follow Christ, the man of God, yearning to bring up his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, the man of God, propelled by the Spirit of God to shepherd the sheep, he needs good food. He needs daily nourishment derived from the good doctrine, the ‘Red Letter Soup’ I mentioned last week.
Secondly, he needs good exercise. P.E. is fine. Keep the body in shape Keep the muscles toned up. You’re going need them for this kind of work. But listen, Fellows. You know what you’re going to need even more? 1 Timothy 4:7-8, you’re going to need to exert yourself in the direction of godliness! Unlike mold and mildew, spiritual growth doesn’t just happen! To become more and more like Jesus Christ doesn’t just happen by way of your location in the Lazyboy with the remote control in hand! Unless, that is, you set those things aside and spend a half hour or more on your knees, and with this Book and a pen and paper in hand!
Marriage leaders, family leaders, church leaders need good exercise to lead. They need good food to lead. They need good courage to lead, also. Monday morning quarterbacks and second-guess Sams will do everything they can to keep you on the sidelines, or maybe even out of the stadium! But, listen, Fellows. It’s time to buck-up! 1 Corinthians 16:13 – Paul puts it like this: “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
You want to lead in your marriage, in your family and in the Lord’s Church? You must have COURAGE! Ask the Lord Jesus, the most courageous person who has ever walked the face of the earth, and He’ll give it to you!
What does a good and godly leader NEED, if he’s going to lead his wife, his children, and the flock of God, where God wants him to lead them, and how God wants him to lead them? 1 Timothy 4:12 – He needs a good reputation.
1 Timothy 4:12, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
Proverbs 22:1 has an interesting, and I believe, very powerful nugget of truth to give us along these lines: it says, “A good name is to be chosen more than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.” Luke tells us in Luke 2 that the young child, the adolescent Jesus, grew in four key areas of life. Do you remember what they were? Luke 2:52, “Jesus grew, He increased, in wisdom, in stature, in favor with God…” and then it says that Jesus grew, He increased “in favor with men.” His good and godly reputation increased.
Men and young men-in-the-making, do you realize that the very first and very last quality or qualification for church leadership listed by the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 3, is the qualification of a good reputation? Take a look: 1 Timothy 3:2, 1 Timothy 3:7 and even 1 Timothy 3:10, “A bishop, an overseer, an elder must be blameless”, he must have a good reputation, a clean slate, verse 7, he must have a “good report” among outsiders. Why? Why is it so important for men, godly men who aspire to lead their families and God’s flock, to have a good reputation? Because God’s good name is at stake! Yes, Fellows, whether we realize or not, whether we like it or not, our lives, and yes, even the lives of those God has commissioned to lead here and at home, what are they? Whether we realize or not, whether we like or not, our lives and their lives are living, breathing BILL BOARDS advertising our Lord! What’s the ‘message’ people see and hear about Christ when they ‘read’ your life and life style? Remember the quips? ‘As the husband goes, so goes the…’ ‘As the father goes..’ ‘As the shepherd goes..’ What does a godly church and family leader need? A must have is a good reputation! And, listen, men, God knows the real you and me!
What does a godly church and family leader need? He needs good food, good exercise, a good courage, a good reputation. Then, next, he also needs, or maybe I should say, “has been given,” a good assignment. 1 Timothy 4:13 – Paul lays out that assignment for his young colleague, Timothy, like this: “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” As you can see, Paul sets forth three major tasks for Timothy to pursue as a godly leader. What are they? Reading… Reading, what? Solomon had this interesting observation to make about reading: “Of the making of books there is no end,” (Ecclesiastes 12:12) and “much study is a weariness of the flesh.” I think if Solomon was writing that verse for 21st century, American men, he would put it like this: “Of the making of magazine, Sports Illustrated, Popular Mechanics, Field and Stream, Hot Rod, etc. there is no end, and too much time in them is a waste of time..” Men, we are called to LEAD our wives, our children, and this flock, in the way God wants us to lead them. How much help in doing so will you gain from that pile of magazines lying beside your LazyBoy?
READ, READING, for your sake, you need to read this Book! But, you know what else I think the apostle Paul envisioned here? He envisioned marriage-leaders, husbands, reading God’s Word to their wives. He envisioned fathers, gathering their children and grandchildren around them on the sofa and reading God’s Word to them. Yes, church leaders reading, not from the READER’S DIGEST, or from the latest, best-selling novel, but from this Book to God’s people!
Why? So that we can teach them from it, and exhort them to be doers of it! A good assignment, men, that’s what we have. A good assignment to read, to exhort, and to teach our wives, our children, and God’s people, from this Book! But, how are we going to get all this done?
There are two more things that a godly leader NEEDS that I want you to take note of with me, before we close: 1 Timothy 4:14-16. Let’s read that section of the text together, shall we?
1 Timothy 4:14-16, “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 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.”
To carry out the assignments of godly leadership, godly men need at least two things: number one, they need a good focus. Writing to Timothy, Paul knew that many things, many enticing, alluring, and even important-sounding things could capture Timothy’s attention, his time, energy and especially, his heart. In so many words, in these three verses, Paul urges Timothy to keep his focus where it should be: on his spiritual giftedness, verse 14, on what Paul had taught him, verse 15, and, yes on himself, and what he was to do as a godly leader, verse 16.
“Keep the focus, Timothy.” A good and godly leader must constantly attend to the Holy Spirit’s ‘fireplace’ within him. To neglect it, to take a ‘I couldn’t care less’ attitude about it, is to open the door for the flame to go out! In his second letter to Timothy, Paul urged him a second time regarding the very same thing: he said, “Stir up the gift of God which is in you by the laying on of my hands,” (2 Timothy 1:6). Keep the focus, men, we must keep the focus on our spiritual giftedness, to increase its intensity, to enhance its effectiveness.
Secondly, keep the focus on the Word. Verse 15 – Now, you and I don’t have a Paul writing letters to us, like Timothy did, do we? Or…, do we?
“Meditate” – the idea there is literally to “rack your brain”, mulling over what this Book says so that you can teach it, so that you can live it… As the husband goes… As the father goes… As the shepherd goes… Keep the focus on the Word. Keep the focus on yourself, and on the doctrine, on what you are teaching your wife, your children, and God’s flock. Continue in them, Paul says… why?
Why? The PRIORITIES of Godly Leadership, what does a godly leader need? He needs good food, he needs good exercise, he needs a good courage , he needs a good reputation, he has and needs to keep a good assignment and he needs a good focus. Why? 1 Timothy 4:16 – Because he has, because he must always keep in mind that he has, a good goal. “Take heed unto yourself, and unto the doctrine, continue in them” – why? “Because in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you…”
Salvation, eternal salvation – heaven - and its opposite, eternal damnation – hell – in view of the perilous times, these dangerous, latter days in which we live, men, is there any more lofty goal than that? “Take heed to yourself and to what you are teaching your wife, your children, and God’s flock…” ‘As the husband goes, so goes the wife.’ ‘As the father goes, so go the children.’ ‘As the shepherd goes, so go the sheep.’ “Take heed to yourself, take heed to what your words AND your life is teaching them…” Why? Because of eternity.