Bible Reading- 1 Timothy 4
I’m sure there’s that thing that you were always doing, but not as efficiently, until someone gave you a few ‘hacks’ or ‘tips’ that changed your life. Maybe as simple as not knowing that you can send voice notes on WhatsApp without having to hold the record button all through- just slide the record button up instead of holding on to it. (wait! finish reading this before rushing to try it out). I’m sure you’ll agree that sometimes those hacks double or triple our efficiency and productivity.
It could be in the way you studied for tests/exams, or how you managed your finances or family, and so on. For Timothy, it was in the way he led his life as a young Christian leader. In our reading today, Paul shared some of the greatest ‘hacks’ with him on how to have a great and effective life. Thankfully, we get to listen in too! Best part is you don’t even have to be a leader occupying an office to apply them, the ‘hacks’ would change your life in your own context! Here are some of my favorites:
- Train yourself to be devoted to God, instead of following silly and godless stories (including on twitter) (Vs 7)
- Work really hard because you have put your hopes in God (Vs 10)
- Set an example for other people in the excellence of your character, the intensity of your love, the strength of your faith and the purity of your lifestyle. (Vs 12)
- Devote yourself to service and empowering people in a God direction. (Vs 13)
- Be conscious that constant practice and persistent hard work brings about evident progress (Vs 15)
- Paying close attention to your own life and continuing in the God-way. It’s a simple tip that’s setting up those around you to be saved too. (Vs 16)
My favorite ‘hack’ however is in verse 14:
“Do not neglect your gift…” 1 Timothy 4:14 NIV
What gifts do you have? We can think about this in a general sense of God wanting us not to neglect the abilities, privileges and endowments that we have and enjoy in life.
The Bible teaches that every good and perfect gift comes from God. We don’t have anything that we did not receive, whether by the laying on of hands or by learning under a teacher or even just by genetic transference. There’s the knowledge, the ability, the tendency, the ease of performance… it’s a gift from God! And Paul encourages us not to neglect it. We must not be wasters of our gift.
Let’s not be deceived, thinking ‘I just happen to be good at this’. True you are, but you’re probably also bad at a thousand other things. What you just ‘happen to be good at’ is a gift that must not be neglected!
The importance of this hack is further demonstrated in Paul’s second letter To Timothy:
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 2 Timothy 1:6
In fact, it’s not enough to not neglect the gift, we need to fan it into flames! The embers are destined to be flames but will remain less than sparks if you refuse to fan them!
One of the scariest things about neglecting God’s gifts is that it greatly displeases Him! That’s why he would call the servant that buried his talent ‘wicked and lazy’ and then cast him out into the darkness.
We think we’re being humble by keeping our gifts to ourself, thinking of how we don’t want to put ourselves out there and all that, but the reality is that humanity as a whole, and particularly the body of Christ, longs to benefit from it.
I particularly like the thought of not neglecting my gift because it is quite relatable and easily gives actionable points:
Think of your job as a gift, and don’t just drag your feet around on it; stir things up, be productive, make the best of it. Even if you’re about to resign, it is still a gift and you owe it to your God-master to be faithful and fruitful with it. The relationships in your life are gifts. Don’t neglect them. Love and honour them.
What abilities, privileges and opportunities do you have?
Be the kind of person that is eager and determined to live your life not neglecting the gifts that you have received, and even more than that, fanning them into a full flame.
Something to pray: Pray that God opens your eyes to the many gifts that you have been blessed with and shows you how best to fan them into flames. Pray that you do not neglect or waste the God-opportunities around you, but that you make the best of everything in your hands.
‘Loni serves as a Worship Leader at Sycamore