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Keep Watching And Learning

1 Timothy 4:15-16
Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (NIVUK)

Timothy had a special gift to teach God’s Word (1 Timothy 4:14).  However, he could not sit back and just let God use his mouth; he had to work at being a faithful disciple (disciple means ‘learner’) of Jesus as well.  Despite all the Lord’s work within him, Timothy would also have to work at being the person God wanted him to be (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3).  The Christian life is not a game to be played at leisure; and ministry is not for amusement, status, financial gain or power.  Walking with Jesus Christ is an everyday business of keeping close to Him and ensuring that we live and teach in ways that stay true to Scripture (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
It is hard for sinful people to teach others because every instruction and explanation reminds them of their failure and need to change.  That is why the teacher also needs to be a humble learner, someone who understands the Scriptures better each day, putting them into practice so that others can see personal progress in the faith.  So in addition to watching over others, teachers (and here we should also include all who have spiritual responsibility for others including parents and grandparents) must watch over themselves, biblically assessing what they believe and how they live.

‘Persevere’ seems to be an old-fashioned word in our instant digital world.  The original comes from a word that means ‘stay’, ‘dwell’ or ‘continue’.  Our faith in Jesus is for the long haul - and so often is our ministry at home, in the church and in the community.  That can be hard, especially when the present circumstances are difficult.  Hebrews 10:35-38 says, “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.   For, ‘In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.’  And, ‘But my righteous one will live by faith.  And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.’”  Persevere!
Example is important (1 Thessalonians 1:6-8).  As Bible doctrine is lived out, people can see that it is good. They see that change is possible by the power of the Spirit and personal attention to the Word.  Such on-going transformation gives others a desire to obey the Lord and allow Him to work in their lives (Romans 12:1-2).  The Christian life should be a continual transition from ignorance to knowledge, and disobedience to obedience.  As those changes are seen and understood, they form the basis of a spiritually healthy community, family or church.  The challenge to all of us is to assess our spiritual health (understanding and obedience), know what needs to change now, and keep persevering until our changing lifestyle reflects the life of Jesus Christ … so that He will be pleased when He comes again.

Almighty God. Thank You for this reminder that my faith should be a practical demonstration to others of the transforming power of Christ. Please forgive me for the times when I lose my appetite to grow in understanding Your Word; or when I understand well enough but refuse to obey you. Please help me to take today’s passage seriously and give me a fresh appetite for knowing You better and obeying You more. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams