“Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16, NLT).
In 1 Timothy, chapter 4, Paul advises Timothy with his responsibility as a teacher of the Gospel. It is a strong lesson for the young man, and filled with crucial advice for ministry. The Scripture today is the last verse, and it brings to a powerful conclusion the whole message of the chapter. “Timothy,” he imparts, “be careful how you live, but not only be careful in your living; be careful in your teaching. Those you teach watch you.” Paul also wrote to the Corinthians, “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited” (2 Corinthians 6:3, NIV). The truth of the matter is that this lesson does not just apply to people in what is considered “ministry”. This applies to you and to me. Someone watches us. Someone listens to us. Everyone leads someone else. For the sake of own salvation, and the salvation of those who watch and listen to us, we must remain true to our faith with which God has entrusted us.
It is difficult for me to understand the manner in which some Christians interpret Scripture. When sharing a personal belief or a point of view or a sudden revelation, they fail to understand the power they have to influence others. If what they share is wrong, it leads others astray, and has the potential to cause spiritual damage. Just as Paul told Timothy we must remain true for not only the sake of others, but for ourselves. Each one of us is called to live responsibility and with integrity. We are called to be His light in this vacillating world. As His ambassador, we are called to share His love and His word correctly and responsibly. We must be responsible in doctrine. We are also totally accountable for our interpretation of Scripture. If we don’t want to become a stumbling block to others, we will share beliefs and thoughts responsibly and also live a holy life that reflects what we say.
You may have never considered the fact that what you teach, say, share, or live effects the one right next to you. We have the potential to speak life or death. We have the power to impart peace. We have the power to speak His Word, and when shared correctly, it imparts His maximum benefit. We have His power, and no man-made counterfeit, when we surrender ourselves to His truth and live it completely. We are called, just as Timothy, to live and share our faith responsibly. We are called, just as Timothy to understand that we stand accountable not only for us, but for others.
Each of us have a responsibility to live what Scripture imparts, and interpret it responsibly. The Word of God should never be manipulated. Scripture should never be offered as truth OUTSIDE the context of other verses. Scripture will never contradict itself. It stands complete and perfect its own powerful revelation. We, humans, make it less or make it more. Carefully we should always consider how our words and our lives impact those of whom we disciple or inspire.
Yes, we are His children, who inspired by the Holy Spirit, interpret Scripture in light of our own personality—in light of reason, and personal experience. We have a responsibility to love God and care for others He sends into our lives. Each one of us should take seriously the words which we offer as truth. Always remember how these words may tear down a life or build it up. We have the power and the responsibility to share His love and His Word……especially to share it in His truth and power. That is when lives are changed. That is when hearts are renewed. That is when we know we have lived and shared as He wishes. Lord, help us, in what we impart and how we live.