1 Timothy 4:13-16 A Little Dabble Won’t Do

Dabbling is defined as “a superficial or intermittent interest, investigation, or experiment.”
1I can enjoy dabbling in a lot of things. I like to dabble in technology. I work with it just enough to feel good at it. I dabble with woodworking. I’m learning to cut things straight. I feel good about a little something that I’ve built now and then – but if the results aren’t exactly perfect, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. I’m willing to bet that a number of you have dabbled in certain things.But there is one thing in particular which no one can afford to dabble in. You cannot afford to dabble in your faith. A little dabbling will not do it. Jesus said in Luke 9:62 “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
We cannot start to serve God and get distracted with other things. But we do. We need to be reminded of 1 John 2:15, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Dabbling in our relationship with the Almighty will only leave you wanting. If upon serious reflection you can see the tendency to go light in your walk with Christ than today I want to call you to getting serious about your faith.

Now to a certain extent you may already be taking your walk with Christ seriously. But if we are truly following Christ there really is no point short of perfect Christlikeness at which we can say, “it is enough. I am full of God enough to satisfy me so I do not need to walk with him any more than I do.” there is always something in our lives which must be surrendered.

Let me ask each one of you this morning to cease dabbling in Christ and to seriously commit yourself to living for God today. No more settling for lesser things. No more being enamored by the things of this world but wholly consumed with living in Him. After all Christ gave everything for you all he wants is all of you.

Open your Bible this morning for your instructions to 1 Timothy 4:13-16 and read along with me.

The supremacy of the Word

(4:13) Until I come, give attention to the [public] reading [of Scripture], to exhortation and teaching.

Remember that in Timothy’s day few people actually owned a copy of the scriptures. In that time much of the time teaching was spent in publicly reading the word of God so that the entire congregation could benefit. So the reading was necessary then. Today everyone of us has a copy of the Bible, and there is no excuse for it not being read at home. Even so, I continue to read the Bible in small portions as we teach because my teaching is founded upon the Bible.

But look how all three categories of usage here are involved. There is biblical intake in the reading of it. There is biblical application in the exhortation of what has been read and there is biblical understanding in the teaching of it.

The word of God must be supreme; and we know this and believe it. This is why we’ve just sent over six thousand bibles through
Love Packages so that more believers in India and Africa can obey the word of God by first having a chance to read it.

And you have got to be in the word if you want it to impact your life. If you want to do more than just dangle your toes in the waters of God’s grace you need to enter into relationship with him by drawing near to him in his word.

The obedience to God’s gifting

(4:14) Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.

God has given to every believer certain abilities to serve him; Timothy was no different. During one of their meetings, a prophet had stood in the service and declared that God had given Timothy a specific gift. The elders (or presbytery) then had acknowledged that statement and had ordained Timothy into service by laying hands on him and praying.

Not everyone has such a clear announcement of their gift. But God has given you one. Often you can determine your gifts by considering not only what you are able to do, but what you have a passion to do and what you do that is fruitful.

This is likely one area which through lack of use causes the most frustration to believers and I believe to God as well. When the LORD gives his children a gift or a skill, He has every right to expect us to serve Him with that gift. As the apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:10…

(4:10) As each one has received a [special] gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (4:11) Whoever speaks, [is to do so] as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves [is to do] [so] as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

How about you? Are you using your gift? Are you serving God with it? Don’t neglect what God has given you to do.

The struggle of one focus

(4:15) Take pains with these things; be [absorbed] in them, so that your progress will be evident to all.

The price of living for Christ is difficulty. I am not calling you to an easy life but to a difficult life. Yes there is a comfort and assuredly there is a joy in living for Christ – it is only in God that we can find satisfaction. Yet we must understand that comfort is not the place of satisfaction in the Lord’s service- obedience is.

Do not permit yourself to be satisfied in the trivialities of life but jump wholeheartedly into a full and passionate pursuit of God’s word and intentional service from the Lord’s enabling. As you do this your progress will be obvious to others as well as to yourself. But we will not likely grow in Christ if we are content to just let whatever happens happen.

The fruit of labor.

I am convinced that God gives mothers the gift of amnesia. I have been witness to live birth on occasion and I have but one thing to say about it: “that looks painful.”

In fact it looks so painful I’m convinced that amnesia has to be involved or Eve would never have had another child! Nor would any other woman. Then again it might be something else. Maybe the fruit of all that hard and painful labor is really so sweet that it is worth the price. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18…

(4:17) For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, (4:18) while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Just as a mother will repeat the pains of labor for the love of a child, in the same way the reward of our labors is worth any effort.

(4:16) Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

Paul’s words to Timothy are sobering and yet encouraging. First he says watch your own life. This is what we are all called to. But I am also called to carefully watch my teaching. If you persevere in the reading and teaching of the word as well as being sure to exercise your God given spiritual gift than you will ensure yourself salvation.

Does this mean somehow that we must earn salvation? No but it does mean that diligence for Christ begets assurance of the salvation he has granted. Perhaps this is one reason why so many Christians remain unsure of their own salvation. They may accept Christ and fully believe so that they are saved, and yet they merely dabble in Christ finding themselves unduly absorbed in meaningless things. Since then they walk so distant and lovelessly with their savior they have no sense of his nearness and grace.

Does this describe you? Are you simply dabbling in your own discipleship?

what is holding you back from a full commitment? What keeps you from being absorbed in these things.

Wake up! No more resting and slumbering. It is time to move forward.

1Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary., Includes Index., Eleventh ed. (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).