Jump Start # 3004
1 Timothy 4:15 “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all.”
Our verse, written to the young preacher Timothy, is layered with three obvious principles. The first two leads to the last one. Without the first two, the last one wouldn’t happen. The last of these principles is progress. It’s movement. It’s moving in the right direction.
Your progress is evident to all. Everyone sees it. Everyone knows you are growing and the faith in Christ has become the center piece of your life. It’s easy to see. You’ve made progress. These words remind me of my ole’ grandma’s house. We grandkids would line up in a doorway and she’d make a mark and put our names by that mark. We’d witness how fast we were growing.
And, with this one principle comes a few thoughts:
First, God intends for us to make progress. Just gettin’ by as some call life doesn’t cut it with the Lord. Be strong is what the Ephesians were told. In Peter’s second letter it’s, “grow in the grace and knowledge.” The Corinthians were told, “Act like men. Be strong.” Progress. In football, the team with the ball has four downs to make progress. If they don’t the other team gets the ball. In finance, if we are not making progress, we are losing money.
Second, progress is visible. As the passage says, “It is evident to all.” Better Bible knowledge. More compassion. Quicker to forgive. More willing to volunteer. You are simply not the same. You’ve changed, and you have changed for the better. It’s hard to tell any progress when all we see is someone sliding in a pew on Sunday morning. A few shallow conversations and then little contact until the next week. And, it’s the same thing all over, again. How would we notice progress? Maybe you’re teaching and you have never done that before. Maybe you are leading public worship by singing, or praying or giving lessons and no one has seen you do that before. But there must be some other ways. Maybe ways beyond public worship. Maybe in the interaction with others during the week. Maybe it’s seeing you at the funeral home for a visitation. Maybe it’s hearing that you took food to someone getting over an illness. Maybe it’s learning that you gave a family a few dollars that made a difference. Progress. Doing things you have never done before. Doing the right things. Doing the things that others not only see but are benefited from.
Third, progress takes time. Growth can be slow and that’s ok as long as progress is being made. It’s when things have come to a stand still that progress stops. Without forward movement, there is no progress. It takes a while for a seedling to become a mighty oak. It takes time to become comfortable with the Bible. Don’t hurry progress. Things have to fall into place in the right order. Sometimes we are the last to see any progress in ourselves. But if we are putting the time into our study of the Bible and if we are connecting more with the Lord and His family, then progress will happen. Some grow at different rates. Some have more to overcome. Make progress.
Fourth, the result of spiritual progress is stronger churches and more people who have been enriched by your good deeds. What makes a church lukewarm or stagnate is the lack of progress. When we coast along, or no longer put effort into what we are doing, progress stops. And, when progress stops, our personal growth stops. And, when that happens to enough of us, the church stops growing. And, it is at that point that the beginning stages of death takes place. Growth isn’t measured just by the number of people sitting in pews. Growth must also be measured internally, spiritually. Strong faith, resists temptation more. Strong faith, doesn’t collapse in times of worry and fear. Strong faith comes from those who have progressed.
Take pains with these things. Be absorbed. Let your progress be evident to all.
We are marching to Zion…onward and upward we go!