“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 every Christian. Someone watches us. Someone listens to us. Everyone leads someone else. For the sake of our own salvation, and the salvation of those who watch and listen, we must remain true to the faith with which God has entrusted us.
It is difficult 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—to be sure that what we share is responsible in the biblical tenets of the faith. 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.
Perhaps you have never considered the fact that what you teach or say or share or how you 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 its 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.
The Word of God should never be manipulated. Scripture will never contradict itself. It stands complete and powerful in its own perfect revelation. We, humans, can 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. But we should take seriously the words we offer as His Words. If it is a God-breathed revelation or a word of knowledge or prophecy biblical truth will never be contradicted. Always remember how your words may tear down a life or build it up. We have the responsibility to share His love and His Word truthfully. And when His love and Word are shared truthfully there is His greatest power behind what is imparted. His truth changes lives. His truth renews hearts. His truth inspires for His greatest purpose. This is when we know we have lived and shared as He wishes. When we see those in whom we have invested our lives, step forward responsibly and powerfully in His calling—staying true in humility of heart and purpose.
(Copyright 2017 Lynn Hampton Lacher)