“These are the things you must insist on and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but set the believer as an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to
teaching. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophesy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. Put these things into practice. Devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Pay close
attention to yourself and to your teaching. Continue in these things, for in doing this, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (Timothy 4:11-16)
We believe that Paul was elderly, probably in prison when he wrote these words to Timothy, the young man he took under his wing and called his son in the faith. You can feel the passion in Paul’s words to Timothy as he tried to impart final wisdom before he died.
We read about how Paul met Timothy in Acts, Chapter 16. Paul went to Lystra where he saw Eunice, Timothy’s mother, and Lois, his grandmother. They were Jews, who had become Christians. Paul was so taken by the faith of this family and young Timothy. So, when Paul moved on in his missionary journey, Timothy wants to go with him. We can tell from the letters that Paul wrote Timothy that he became his emissary. When Paul is in Ephesus, he sent Timothy to go to Corinth. If he is in Thessalonica, he might be sending him to Ephesus. He’s always sending Timothy to check on things and report back. Three things I want to share with you about Paul’s advice to Timothy.
First, I love how Paul encourages Timothy in Timothy 4:14, “Do not neglect the gift that you have been given.” If you flip over to II Timothy, you’ll read where Paul says in different words, “Remember to rekindle the gift of God that is within you.” Over and over says to young Timothy, remember the gift that God has placed within you. And remember that gift that is within you that you can use to live a meaningful life and dream great dreams.
Second, each of us are also called to look for the gifts God has placed within us and use them in a meaningful way. The gifts God has given you will evolve and change through the years. You may think you only have one, but you may have many. The gifts that you had when you were 20 may be different from the gifts you had at 40, or at 80.Paul has a lot of things to say about finding those gifts within you and living your dreams. Paul will say to Timothy in the 15th verse, “Practice these duties. Devote yourself to them.”
Third, the duties Paul spoke of were reading scripture, preaching and teaching. He was trying to say to Timothy, life can become crazy, so when you get pulled in different directions, don’t forget to practice your duties; to do the things that are the most important. He also encouraged him to be disciplined and focus on things that matter.
When Paul wrote to his son in the faith, Timothy, he didn’t say, Timothy, do all these things so people can see you’re perfect. He said, “Don’t neglect the gift that you have within. Practice your duties. Do not ignore the basic things so that people may see your progress.”
It’s a reminder that applies to each of us, today to discover the gifts within, use the time that is ours to live life with enthusiasm in a meaningful way.