Keep A Close Watch
1 Timothy 4:16 (ESV) — 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.
Has anyone ever said to you, “You need to keep an eye on them”? The implication of such a statement is that they are a person who may not be trustworthy. It’s a warning to protect yourself. Stay on guard. These types of warnings happen in families, workplaces, sports teams, politics, and friend groups. The underlying reality exposed with this type of thing is that people are sinners and have the capacity to hurt each other through deceptive actions.
Our passage today is a warning like this. However, the warning Paul gives Timothy isn’t about others, but himself. The warning that comes to each of us through this text is that we ourselves are the ones that must be watched. We are the culprits capable of deceiving ourselves. Paul writes, “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.”
The context of this passage is Paul providing a younger Timothy instruction for leading in the churches. Timothy often stayed in the places where Paul planted churches. He would continue to instruct and teach the new believers until the church was healthy. This letter shows Paul giving Timothy continued mentoring and discipleship so that he could lead effectively.
Paul tells Timothy to keep a close watch on himself and his teaching. This two-fold instruction is about his conduct and doctrine. He must be careful about how he lives, because his life will be a testimony. But he must also keep a close watch on his doctrine, because that will affect what he teaches the church. The implication of this instruction is that it’s possible for people to err in both their conduct and doctrine. This is terrible for any Christian, but it is dangerous for the Christian leader and pastor. His actions affect not only himself, but those he leads.
The instruction Paul provides Timothy is something for each of us to ponder. Are we keeping a close watch on how we live and conduct ourselves? Do we stress the importance of obedience to God’s Word, and repent when we see we’ve strayed? Do we hold to biblical theology? Do we know our Bible well enough to discern error? These are vital questions for us to answer. Commit yourself to both of these warnings and recognize the ease that exists within you to stray from either.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why does Paul need to warn Timothy about these things?
- What two things does Paul warn Timothy to keep watch over?
- How can we help ourselves not to go astray in these two areas?
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