Keys for Christian Workers – Part 1

Study/reflection questions for this passage

2:1 seems to summarize chapter 1 (“therefore”).  Although chapter 1 introduces themes on which Paul will later elaborate (e.g., suffering for the gospel), its main focus is on the resources God has gracious provided Timothy.

  • Identify every manifestation of the resources God has graciously provided for Timothy in chapter 1.  (You should be able to find at least 6 or 7 different resources.)  Try to restate them in your own words.
  • How has God granted these same resources to you?  With which ones do you readily identify?  Which ones seem fuzzy or foreign to you?
  • Why is it so important for you to believe in and regularly remind yourself of these resources?  What happens when you don’t do this?
  • How can you do for one of your fellow leaders/disciples (this week) what Paul is doing for Timothy?

“Be strong in grace”

  • “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” hearkens back to the indicatives Paul reminds Timothy of.
    • The sincere faith we have had modeled to us by older Christians--especially early in our spiritual lives (1:5)
    • The spiritual gift(s) that God has made known to us through other workers (1:6; 1 Tim. 4:14; 1:18)
    • God’s promise to impart (through the Holy Spirit - see 1:14) power, love and sound judgment in whatever he calls you to do (1:7)--especially in sharing the gospel (1:8)
    • God’s unique ministry calling (unique role) for Timothy’s life (1:9; Eph. 2:10 & 1 Cor. 15:8-10; see Paul’s role in 1:11; may be synonymous with 1:6)
    • God’s promise of ultimate victory over death (life and immortality) through Christ (1:10)--which arms us to suffer for him
    • God’s promise to richly reward us for our service when Jesus returns (1:12)
    • Refreshing brothers and sisters God has currently placed in my life (1:16-18)
  • What does it look like to “be strong in” this grace?
    • Regularly recall these promises and reaffirm (by thanking God) they are true.
    • Reflect on how you have experienced these promises in the past.
    • Ask other workers who know you well for help in seeing these things.
  • Do you regularly strengthen “yourself in grace” this way?  Is there a connection between your answer and how often you feel overwhelmed, burned out, etc.?  What things in Timothy signal to Paul that Timothy needs to be reminded of this (NEGLECTING USE OF HIS GIFT; TIMIDITY; ASHAMED; AVOIDING SUFFERING)?  Can you relate to this?

Overcoming timidity (1:6-8)

  • Becoming timid is a common problem for Christian leaders.  There are many things that can intimidate us (confronting people; spiritual accusation; etc.).  But fear is like a boa-constrictor—every time you give into it, its power over you grows.  Timid leaders are not leading—they are back-pedaling, trying to avoid danger, etc.
  • God has already given us fully sufficient the resources to counter timidity—his power, his love, and his self-control.  But if we want to experience freedom from timidity and God’s counter-resources, we must be willing to take certain steps of faith:
    • We have to “kindle afresh the gift of God within us” (1:6; see also 1 Tim. 4:14).  This probably refers to using the spiritual gift(s) God has given you.  This is probably why Paul refers to our special ministry calling in 1:1,9,11.  We experience God’s power and increasing confidence in God as we allow his power to course through us in these gifted areas.  (ME AFTER A BREAK FROM TEACHING)
    • We have to be willing to communicate the gospel even/especially when it leads to suffering (1:8).  When we step out in faith to share the gospel, we experience God’s power (Acts 1:8) that builds confidence in God.  When we get flak for it, we experience God’s affirmation and get liberated from fear of people.

The importance of a “clear conscience” (1:3)

  • This is a very important matter to Paul.
    • He cites it about himself here and in Acts 23:1 (“perfectly good conscience”) and Acts 24:16 (“a blameless conscience before God and man”).
    • He sees it as central to the goal of our instruction (1 Tim. 1:5 – “good conscience”).  A good conscience may be synonymous with a “pure heart” and a “sincere faith.”
    • He warns that rejecting it will shipwreck our faith (1 Tim. 1:19)—i.e., it will lead us to embrace bad doctrine in order to justify our immorality.
    • He insists on it as a requirement for deacons (1 Tim. 3:9 – “holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience”).
  • What does it mean to have a clear/good/blameless conscience?
    • It seems to center around being responsive to God’s personal conviction/leading.  As we hear God’s voice convicting us either about sin or about steps of love to take, we are to be sensitive to his voice and be ready/willing to obey it.
    • The opposite of this would be a hardened heart.  It may also be a horizontal, man-pleasing mindset.
    • See also God’s counsel to David in Ps. 32:8,9.  God wants us to respond to his personal counsel, rather than having to take disciplinary measures (“use bit and bridle”) to get our attention.
  • What are the signs of a good conscience?  How would you recognize it in yourself/others?
    • Confessing sins/convictions that no one else would have known about otherwise or before others always have to bring it to your attention
    • Taking steps of faith in ministry that no one would have known about or reproved you for not doing
  • Why is this so important for a leader?
    • We grieve the Spirit when we ignore/reject his personal guidance in any are of our lives.  Spiritual power is gained or forfeited largely by our dealings with God when no one else is watching.
    • Leadership requires getting direction from God—but we can’t get direction from God for the church or others if we’re not responding to his direction in our own personal lives.
  • How can you develop this?
    • Ask God to show you if you have a bad conscience in any area—agreeing in advance to obey what he shows you.
    • Bring out into the light any known areas of bad conscience.  (SO OFTEN THE PROBLEM WITH NON-GROWING CHRISTIANS IN YOUR HOME GROUP)
    • Confess sins to others as you are convicted about them!  Insist on this with those you disciple!
    • When you get conviction/leading about something, share it with a fellow worker.  This will help commit you to obedience.