Summary: 1 Timothy 4:11-16 shows us the dos and don'ts of Christian ministry.
In his First Letter to Timothy, Paul wanted Timothy to stop the false teaching that was taking place in the churches in Ephesus (1:3-4), and also to teach believers how to behave in the household of God (3:14-15). In chapter 4, Paul set down the qualities of an excellent minister. In today’s lesson, we are going to see the dos and don’ts of Christian ministry.
Let us read about the dos and don’ts of Christian ministry in 1 Timothy 4:11-16:
11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:11-16)
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born on June 19, 1834 in Kelvedon, Essex. Spurgeon’s formal education has been described as “mediocre.” Nevertheless, he loved to read and he often slipped into the attic and read the works of the martyrs, the Puritans, and John Bunyan. At school, he did however gain some measure of proficiency in Greek, Latin, and philosophy.
Being raised in a Christian home where Bible reading, prayer, catechizing, worship attendance, and the reading of devotional classics were regular practices, he knew the Christian faith. But he was not a Christian. In an 1878 sermon he said, “I distinctly recollect the time when I could not rest because of sin, and sought the Lord, while yet a child, with bitter anguish.” Despite these deep impressions, it was not until January 6, 1850, at the age of fifteen, that Spurgeon was converted.
Within a year of his conversion, Spurgeon preached his first sermon, compelled by a friend and unprepared, at Taversham. He was only sixteen. By October 1851, at the age of seventeen, he had become the pastor of Waterbeach Baptist Chapel near Cambridge. His two-year ministry in the thatched-roof Waterbeach Chapel saw attendance grow from 40 to 400.
In 1854, at the age of nineteen, Spurgeon was called to become the pastor of the historic New Park Street Chapel in London. The church began to grow immediately under his preaching. To say he became an overnight sensation is not to overstate the fact. The building was almost immediately expanded to seat 1,500 (with standing room for 500 more), but still the crowds could not be contained. While plans were under way for a larger building, Spurgeon preached at the famous Exeter Hall. In time this building, which seated over 4,000, also became inadequate. Sunday services were eventually held at the Surrey Music Hall, seating 10,000.
By the age of twenty-two Spurgeon had become the most popular preacher of his day, yet he was despised by many in the press as “the boy preacher.”
In 1861, Spurgeon preached to the largest indoor crowd ever recorded. He spoke on a national day of fasting and prayer to 23,654 at the famous Crystal Palace. In March 1861, at the age of twenty-six, the Metropolitan Tabernacle, with a seating capacity of nearly 6,000, was finally opened, debt free. This would be the home of Spurgeon’s congregation, and the center of his distinguished pulpit ministry, until his death on January 31, 1892. For thirty-one years, the average attendance for both morning and evening worship services was 6,000.
By the time Paul wrote this First Letter to Timothy, he was probably in his mid-thirties. Timothy was given a very difficult task of refuting the false teachers and correcting the problems that had arisen in the church. Apparently, some may have been miffed that they had been passed over by Paul to give leadership to the churches in Ephesus, and they looked down on “young Pastor Timothy.” So, in today’s lesson, Paul sought to challenge Timothy.
1 Timothy 4:11-16 shows us the dos and don’ts of Christian ministry.
Let’s use the following outline, and start with the negative first:
1. The Don’ts of Christian Ministry (4:12a, 14)
2. The Dos of Christian Ministry (4:11, 12b-13, 15-16)
I. The Don’ts of Christian Ministry (4:12a, 14)
First, let’s look at the don’ts of Christian ministry.
Paul noted two don’ts of Christian ministry.
A. Don’t Be Intimidated Because of Your Youth (4:12a)
First, don’t be intimidated because of your youth.
Paul wrote to Timothy in verse 12a, “Let no one despise you for your youth.” Timothy was still a relatively young man, perhaps in his mid-thirties, so Paul had to instruct him not to let anyone despise him for his youth. Paul understood that Timothy had been called to pastoral leadership beyond his years. His responsibility to “command and teach these things” (v. 11) was in danger of being undermined by his youthfulness, and by the signs that some were not receiving his ministry. As commentator John Stott said, “Paul is not concerned now with error (and how it could be detected and rejected) but with truth (and how it could be commended and so accepted).”