Jump Start # 2006
1 Timothy 4:15 “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all.”
NOTE: With Monday being a holiday, there will not be a Jump Start on that day.
The last Jump Start of the year. So many things to consider. Reflections. Resolutions. Backward. Forward. Inward. Upward. What has been accomplished. What needs to be done. Goals met. Goals to make. Plenty of ideas and plenty of passages to draw from. I chose this one from Timothy. It speaks well to the devotion and seriousness of what we are about.
Consider four truths from this verse.
First, take pains with these things. The “these things,” are what is found immediately before this.
- Prescribe these things (11)
- Be an example to believers (12)
- Give attention to public reading of Scripture (13)
- Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you (14)
Now, the “take pains” part also has an earlier connection. Paul said we labor and strive in these things. Take pains—we may say “sweat it.” Put effort and energy into what you are doing. Work hard. Initially, these words are fitting the preacher. Paul is instructing a young preacher. But don’t just keep it there. This is something that we all ought to endeavor to do. The lazy preacher and the lazy member become the lazy church. Laidback is often a nice way of saying, “doing nothing.” No hurry. No diligence. And with that spirit, things tend to fall apart. We see that physically. A little drip in the ceiling, is answered by, ‘we’ll get to that one of these days.’ After a while, that little drip has become a huge stain on the ceiling. One day, part of the ceiling falls in. Now a little problem has become a major problem. Had some effort and energy been applied long before this, all of this could have been prevented.
Take pains to know the Bible. Read it. Memorize it. Use it. Apply it. Take pains to set forth the godly example to all people, this even includes what one posts and likes on Facebook. Be an example. Use your talents. Little problems become big problems because nothing was done. Churches, as well as individuals need goals, spiritual goals.
The taking pains spirit is someone who is serious about their faith. They are seeing after things. They are trying hard. They are moving things around in their life to make themselves more pleasing to God.
Second, be absorbed in them. Saturated. Filled. Ephesians says ‘don’t get drunk…but be filled with the Spirit.’ Colossians says, ‘Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you.’ If you drop a sponge into a bucket of water and then squeeze that sponge, lots of water will come out. It absorbed the water. What happens when you squeeze a Christian? Out comes the word of God. Out comes kindness. Out comes godliness. Out comes Christ. He is filled with those things. He is absorbed with those things. Just having a spiritual thought on Sunday morning isn’t really being absorbed. What about while at work? What about while at the store? What about while with the family at holidays? Kindness. Goodness. Christ. These are what fill our hearts.
Third, your progress. You are moving. You are progressing. You are getting better. You are getting stronger. These pains and this absorption has made your stronger, more faithful and more involved spiritually. There has been positive results because of this. Your time spent has paid off. You are stronger as a Christian. Your mind thinks spiritual first. Your schedule shows how serious you are about the Lord. Your daily habits reflect Christ. You are going places spiritually. You are better today than you were last year. Your attitude, your choice of words, your controlling your anger and your tongue, your thoughtfulness—all of this has gotten better. You are a better parent. You are a better spouse.
Fourth, this change and this progress in you is evident by all. Others see this. You are nice to be around. You are different. You are the best others have ever seen. These spiritual choices are paying off. You don’t engage in the smutting and offensive stories at work. You don’t flirt around with those you are not married to. You don’t live as if you are still part of the world. This change in you is evident. It will be one of the reasons people will ask you spiritual questions. It will be one of the reasons why people will take you more seriously now. Some may take you up on your invite to come to services. What is attractive to them is your progress. Molded by Christ, you are turning into something that others admire.
Take pains. Be absorbed. Make progress. Be evident to all. Great words to consider both backwards to this year and forward to the coming year. How are you doing with these things? There is something special about these words. They not only change us, but they change our family and they change our church. A better you, makes a better family and a better church. We often want things to change in a marriage or in the church. One of the best ways to change, is by changing ourselves. Get on the ball and get after it! Let’s turn it up a notch, by attending more, reaching out more, engaging more, connecting more, and helping more.
When folks don’t see any progress—you’ll look the same as you always have, then maybe we are not doing enough. It will show when you pour yourself into the Scriptures and your heart into Christ.
Imagine every member in the congregation following these four steps. WOW. Imagine every family member doing these things. AMAZING. Better yet, imagine you doing these things!