In our ongoing study of 1 Tim.4:12-16, we note verse 15: Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all.
To get his point across to Timothy, Paul calls upon the law of cause and effect, which states that certain action will normally bring about certain results. The cause is take pains...be absorbed in... and the effect is progress that is evident to all. Surely every reasonable person can see the value in progress. By its very definition (movement toward a goal), progress is fuel to the human spirit. So what could possibly be better for us than spiritual progress? Indeed, it should be the mission of every one of us to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). But Paul seems to indicate our growth and progress needs to be evident to those around us. He is certainly not making a case for us to flaunt our spirituality, but it is a fact that if the child of God is truly making spiritual progress, it should be evident to those who are watching.
A great source of joy within the body of Christ is being able to observe a brother or sister grow conspicuously in their spiritual walk. Just as we experience a pleasing sense of satisfaction when we see a young person grow to become a maturing, successful adult, to observe Christian growth is spiritually fulfilling. Surely this idea was behind Paul's words as he encouraged the Philippians to greater maturity and unity in Philippians 2:1-4.
Finally, take note of what Paul says is needed for conspicuous growth:
- Take pains with these things... The KJV renders this as meditate upon, but the term means more than just mental analysis of something. It includes "attend to, practice" (W.E. Vine), thus the idea of taking pains with, in order to get it right. Spiritual development is produced by something more than just a thought process; it demands the diligent exercise of practice and effort. In other words, there is no shortcut to spiritual maturity.
- ...be absorbed in them... When we speak of someone being totally immersed in his work, we're describing one who gives top priority to his task. W.E Vine says a literal rendering of this phrase is "be in these things". Thus, to attempt to live the Christian life with only minimum effort at study and application will hardly be fruitful. Many seem to be convinced that 2 to 4 hours of worship service attendance per week should be more than sufficient to bring about steady, consistent spiritual growth. In addition to the outward activities that are designed to strengthen and encourage, we must also be consistent, even perpetual, in our study and application of the word.