Paul was a man who longed, not only for souls to be saved, but also for believers to grow spiritually, and to make progress in their Christian life. He looked for development and desired to help and encourage others to greater spiritual things. In Acts 15.36 we read of Paul saying, "Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do".
As for Timothy, he was a younger man for whom Paul had great affection. The first occasion we read of Timothy is in Acts 16.1: "behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek". "Him would Paul have to go forth with him" (v.3). We also read something of the life of Timothy. Paul speaks of "the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice" (2 Tim 1.5), "and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim 3.15).
We have here emphasised for us the value and importance of bringing up children, and the role of a mother. Surely those of us who had the great privilege of being brought up in a Christian home are thankful to God for godly parents who prayed for us, and desired that we might be something for the Lord.
The role of the mother as the keeper of the home (Titus 2.5) is such a critical work. We live in a world where it is frowned upon for a woman to want to have children and stay at home to care for them. The pressure is on for women today to return to work as soon as possible, and push themselves, as far as a career is concerned, to get to the top of the tree. Christian women should not succumb to the pressure of the world. It may of course be unavoidable for some to work, to make ends meet financially, but we should not live in a way which means the woman has no choice but to work especially when the children are very young. The early years of children's lives are so important. What an influence we can have upon them - lasting affects upon their lives which can ground them for the future. Why would we put these young influential lives into the hands of the ungodly?
While Paul spoke of Timothy's grandmother and mother, it maybe that you have an influence in the lives of children perhaps as a Sunday school teacher. What a vital role you have to play. Scripture would also indicate that Timothy was saved under the preaching of Paul for he addresses him as "Timothy, my own son in the faith" (1 Tim 1.2), and "Timothy, my dearly beloved son" (2 Tim 1.2).
Paul also refers to him as, "my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord" (1 Cor 4.17), and states that "I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state" (Phil 2.20). So Paul could speak of Timothy with confidence; he saw the potential in the life of this young believer, and had a desire to nurture him and see him grow and develop. What a challenge to us as to our spiritual growth.
Spiritual growth should be seen in the life of each one of us. In a baby we constantly look for development. The baby supporting its head, sitting up, rolling over, crawling and walking - and we rejoice with every stage. But are we still making progress in our life? Perhaps there are other young believers that we know, that we can encourage, and, like Paul with Timothy, draw alongside to be a spiritual influence for good, to take them to meetings, and to spend time with them. Time spent with other believers will keep them from wandering into the company of the world and save them from the snare of the evil one.
Paul in his writing to his young friend, tasked him with charging "some that they teach no other doctrine" (1 Tim 1.3), dealing with error that was taught, and teaching which should be to edify and to build up (1.4). Another charge is given - "that…thou mightiest war a good warfare" (1.18). Paul is very aware that the Christian life is a battleground, and he encourages Timothy specifically for the job in hand.
At 2.8-15 Paul exhorts Timothy as to his prayer life - whom and what he should pray for. What a wonderful position we are in as believers, that we can come boldly to the Throne of Grace, and bring our cares and concerns to Him. Prayer is a power that we have available to us that perhaps we often underestimate and don't utilise as we should. The question is, "Do we pray?". Perhaps in our busy life it is all too easy to put it to one side, and it gets forgotten. In a morning we are in a rush to go here and there, with little time at our disposal, and in an evening at the end of a busy day, surely there is no point in us praying for we would just fall asleep. Is this familiar? This is just where Satan wants us to be.
If we don't communicate with our friends or loved ones, then inevitably our relationship with them becomes affected and ultimately breaks down. It is the same with God. If we don't pray, and there is no communication with heaven, our relationship will be affected. The perfect example is the Lord Jesus Christ, who "went up into a mountain apart to pray" (Mt 14.23), and "rising up a great while before day, he departed into a solitary place, and there prayed" (Mk 1.35). If the Lord saw the need to spend time with the Father how much more should we.
Our prayer life is vital. Someone is quoted as saying that the sceptics claim that answered prayer is just a coincidence, but it's amazing how many coincidences there are when we pray. In 1 Timothy 4 Paul continues to charge, challenge, encourage and edify Timothy: "be thou an example" (v.12), "give attendance to reading" (v.13), "Neglect not the gift" (v.14), "Meditate upon these things" (v.15), and "Take heed" (v.16).
Paul desired that Timothy would be an example, a pattern or model of the believers in word, his speech and conversation, his behaviour and conduct in his life (v.12). The challenge to Timothy can be applied to us today. As believers, what kind of example are we to those around us? If everyone in the assembly was just like me, what kind of assembly would it be?
Be assured that others watch how we live and how we conduct ourselves. They notice if we are not at the meetings, if we are always late. Perhaps as brethren we don't take responsibility within the assembly gatherings, and don't worship or pray in the prayer meetings. What kind of example is that to the next generation? Also, what we say, where we go, and with whom we keep company do not go unnoticed. Are we a good example to those around us?
Give attendance, or give heed to "reading, to exhortation, to doctrine" (v.13). Paul now exhorts Timothy as to the Scriptures - give heed to reading. Is the reading of the Scriptures our daily occupation? It is our spiritual food and we should live in the strength of what we gather from the Word of God each day.
"Meditate upon these things" (v.15). The word meditate here carries with it the thought of attending to or being occupied with. Timothy's whole life was to be occupied with these things. He was not only to know the Scriptures and teach them to others, but they should affect his whole life style. Could that be said of us? Living a life as a Christian is not something we just switch on when we attend the assembly meetings, but it is our whole life. The Lord and the Scriptures should be the centre of our life. We should not live for ourselves, and then if we have time fit in the Lord, meetings, and the Scriptures. These things should take priority.
Paul longed for progress in the life of this young man Timothy, that he would be an example to others, be aware and prepared to be the next generation, while understanding his present responsibility.