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Good Advice: Pay Attention

by J.D. Phillips

We conclude our study of 1 Tim.4:12-16 with a look at verse 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.

It cannot be denied that Paul's words here apply specifically to one who is directly engaged in teaching and preaching the Gospel. However, the principles taught here apply to each of us in our daily lives, as we model Christianity to those all around us. A significant amount of the teaching done by every child of God is accomplished in his or her example, as those around us see our actions and hear our words. Paul's words to Timothy instruct us as well, to pay attention and persevere.
  • Pay close attention. The English Standard Version renders this statement as keep a close watch... A Christian must ever be watchful, making sure he or she follows closely in the footsteps of Jesus. There is never a time when we can afford to relax in our watchfulness, our service to God never goes on vacation. This close attention is to be continuous, not just on days or at times of worship or assembly.
  • How we live and what we say. The highest of standards is God's word, and our daily lives as well as our every word must direct the attention of those around us to the Father. We must never lose sight of the urgency of good influence, and the need to be salt and light to the world around us. (Matt.5:13-16) should ever be part of our motivating purpose in life.
  • Persevere. A comparison of several translations helps us to see the importance of what Paul is advocation to the young preacher. Persevere - continue (KJV), persist (ESV), persevere (NASB), stay true (NIV). The idea of continuing is put forth often in the Bible as a descriptive term for what God wants in the lives of His children. In Acts 14:22 Paul and Barnabas were found to be encouraging them to continue in the faith on the first missionary journey. In Hebrews 8:9 the writer reminds us that God found fault with the Israelites because they did not continue in My covenant. There can be no heavenly reward for those who fail to persevere.
  • Ensuring salvation. The Bible frequently uses language that reminds us of our part in the salvation process. This is not to suggest that we earn or merit salvation, but it surely insists that we each individually have obligations in the matter. In Philippians 2:12, Paul said to those brethren to work out your own salvation.... In Acts 2:40 (KJV), Peter instructed the people on Pentecost to save yourselves from this untoward generation.
  • Those within our reach. Implied in the words, both yourself and those who hear you again is the fact that as Christians, our outreach is vital.
We dare not falter in wielding the godly influence of daily Christian living. Our very salvation depends on it.

"...upon this rock I will build My church..." Matt.16:18

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