I sat on the stage looking out at roughly around 100 people in the auditorium. The pianist and organist were softly playing. My pastor was sitting directly to my left, and my immediate family was seated on the second and third rows. The casket was positioned directly in front of the pulpit. My Great Uncle was singing Before The Throne of God Above. I knew it was almost time. I took one last sip of water, one last look at the Charles Spurgeon quote on my tablet, then one final moment of prayer. My uncle finished, clipped his microphone onto the stand, so I got out of my seat, and walked forward. I laid my tablet and Bible on the pulpit, then began my first sermon.
About three-quarters of the way through, I felt completely exhausted. I looked at the audience as I was preaching and could see tears, tears from people who had never even met my grandmother, who had passed away only days ago. I knew I had to finish strong no matter the fatigue for the glory of Christ, so I doubled my efforts. People here needed to hear the Gospel. They needed to see the sovereignty of God even over death and evil and find salvation in the Lord. By the time I finished preaching, I literally felt my body cramping from the mental and physical intensity. Why was that? I mean, I work out 5-days a week, and at least in this stage of life, I am a very healthy person. So, why was I exhausted? It was because I was completely immersed in preaching the Word of God, my objective was to glorify Him by declaring His truth!
Brothers and sisters, in the same way, we must immerse ourselves in our ministries for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Whether you are a pastor, small group leader, counselor, stay at home mom, or seminary student, you must progress and advance. You must do this so you can serve Christ and His church with more skill, wisdom, knowledge, and proficiency than ever before.
Our pathway to accomplish this goal is found in the Holy Word of God. Paul wrote to Timothy, his young son in the faith, and said, “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress (1 Timothy 4:15).” Timothy needed to focus on the duties of pastoral ministry and the charge given to him by God. He needed to progress in his understanding of Scripture and his ability to articulate it precisely.
Timothy was not only to advance in his skill as a minister of the Gospel but also in the imitation of his Lord. Paul tells him in 1 Timothy 4:16, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourselves and your hearers.” The young man was to advance not just in his proficiency to communicate the truth, but also in his ability to faithfully live it out. As servants of Christ, it is imperative that we examine ourselves and strenuously strive to progress in our walk with the Lord.
What is the motivation that Paul gives Timothy for doing these things? The last part of the text declares, “Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourselves and your hearers (1 Timothy 4:16b).” Paul encourages his son in the faith to do these things while being spurred on towards the objective of salvation. This text does not indicate that everyone who hears Timothy preach will be saved, but we must recognize that perseverance in the truth is the only way anyone will be saved! No one comes to salvation as a fruit of the proclamation of heretical doctrine. Therefore, Timothy was to advance himself both in his personal holiness and in his teaching knowing that God would use him as a tool to bring about the salvation of others.
How can you and I continue to grow in our lives and ministries? I want to commend the practicality of two steps. First, we must ensure our thinking is in alignment with the Scripture. The text we have examined clearly asserts Timothy was to maintain sound doctrine. If we are to live rightly, then we must think biblically. We also need to have others around us who can ascertain if we are living according to the Word. Our families, fellow elders, church members, and others can greatly assist us in this area if we come to them out of a spirit of humility seeking to learn.
Secondly, we must put into practice what we have studied. Timothy was to advance in his life by being increasingly faithful to Christ and Paul was telling him to be an example for the church. In fact, he says in 1 Timothy 4:12, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” It was Timothy’s responsibility to be a picture of biblical doctrine lived out correctly. In the same way friends, you and I must understand what God proclaims in His Word and rightly apply those truths in our lives.
I am certain many of you reading this post are more experienced than I, and more proficient at handling and applying the Scripture. But, let me encourage you to continually and faithfully strive towards the next level for the magnification of the name of your Redeemer! That is our goal and objective, to make much of Christ and to glorify the One who saved us, bought us with His blood, and ransomed us from enslavement to our sin. May each one of us seek to grow, advance, and progress for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ and for the good of His church!