1 Timothy 4 … Consider Him Who Nourishes His Servants

In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following, (4:6).

Timothy was a young man called to a major responsibility. As the wife of a pastor of more than twenty-six years, I have an inkling of the burden that accompanies the call. These letters from Paul must have been so treasured by Timothy, with their instruction and encouragement. But Paul could only do so much, for sustaining the life of any believer necessitates so much more than the words of a mentor, no matter how encouraging they may be.

I am currently engaged in an activity that has become a lost art. I am writing letters, not texts or emails, but communicating by snail mail with a young college student who felt called to serve as a counselor in a Christian camp for the summer. Part of her camp experience is the relinquishing of all mobile devices, except on designated “rest days.” In this day of cell phones, cameras and social media, it is surely a  major adjustment, and dare I say, a challenge.

So weekly, I write a note to encourage her in her call to mentor young girls in their faith, and she writes me as well. I get super excited when I see her handwriting on an envelope that has arrived in the mail, and I love reading how God is working in her life. Her letters vitalize my own faith. And she writes how my letters encourage her faith as well. We share Scriptures with each other, relying on His Word as our true source of support and strength.

While my letters are not inspired, they do remind me of Paul’s communication with Timothy. Paul wrote this God-breathed letter to encourage a young pastor in the throes of adjusting his entire life to the drastic challenges of his call to serve God; but most importantly Paul was inspired to embolden Timothy in his call to defend Truth in his church in Ephesus.

As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, (1 Timothy 1:3).

Paul penned his letters to support and nurture Timothy in the best way he could. And Paul knew, the best way he could do that, the only way really, was to point Timothy to the One Who Nourishes His Servants.

Consider Him Who Nourishes His Servants

This portion of Paul’s letter begins by pointing out exactly what will rob God’s Servants of the nourishment so desperately needed: feeding on the dangerously depleting substitute of deceitful spirits, doctrines of demons, hypocrisy, and lies.

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, (4:1-2).

These false teachings, these doctrines of demons, were enticing believers to seek after other means of sustaining their life in Christ; as if following a list of dos and don’ts, as if maintaining requirements of what is forbidden or allowed, would feed their souls.

This word, nourish, means to provide the nutriment needed for the purpose of training in practical knowledge, and becoming skilled in that knowledge.

Nourish:

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:
1789. ἐντρέφω entréphō; to nourish. To nourish up in anything, to bring or train up in. In the pass., to be skilled in, imbued with…”

Louw- Nida Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament:
“33.242 ἐντρέφω: to provide instruction and training, with the implication of skill in some area of practical knowledge—‘to train, to teach.’”

  • He Nourishes His Servants on the Words of Faith.

    • In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following, (4:6).
      • So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ, (Romans 10:17).

Word:

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:
3056. λόγος lógos; to speak intelligently. Intelligence, word as the expression of that intelligence, discourse…”

Louw- Nida Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament:
33.98
ῥῆμα; that which has been stated or said, with primary focus upon the content of the communication…”

Faith:

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:
4102. πίστις pístis; to win over, persuade. Faith… that which is believed, doctrine, the received articles of faith.”

Louw- Nida Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament:
31.102 πιστεύω: to believe in the good news about Jesus Christ and to become a follower—‘to be a believer, to be a Christian, Christian faith.’”

  • He Nourishes His Servants on Sound Doctrine (Good Teaching).

    • In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and the good teaching that you have followed, (4:6 CSCB).
      • All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work, (2 Timothy 13:16-17).

Sound, Good:

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:
2570. καλός kalós;  Good. Constitutionally good without necessarily being benevolent; expresses beauty as a harmonious completeness, balance, proportion.”

Louw- Nida Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament:
88.4 καλός; pertaining to a positive moral quality, with the implication of being favorably valued—‘good, fine, praiseworthy,’”

Doctrine, Teaching:

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:
1319. διδασκαλία didaskalía; to teach. Teaching or instruction…”

Louw- Nida Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament:
33.236 διδαχή; the content of what is taught—‘what is taught, doctrine, teaching.’”

How do we respond to Him Who Nourishes His Servants?

There are two noteworthy characteristics Paul ascribes to young Timothy. Two noteworthy characteristics we desperately need.

In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following, (4:6).

Timothy was constantly Nourished. He constantly gave his attention to the Words of Faith and the Sound Doctrine he had been taught.

And Timothy made it his practice to follow the Words of Faith and Sound Doctrine. And because he had been following what he was being taught, he was constantly Nourished, equipped and skilled for every good work.

It’s that old adage, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” God leads us to the Living Water of His Word, but we must constantly follow what He provides if we expect to be Nourished.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil, (Hebrews 5:13-14).

And if we will constantly follow His Words of Faith and Sound Doctrine our senses will be trained to discern good and evil, skilled in avoiding doctrines of demons, deceptions, hypocrisy, lies, and worldly fables.

But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women… (4:7).

Paul paints this picture of old women. Now, I am advancing in years, but I definitely don’t want to be relegated to a place of rocking chairs and rumors.

He Nourishes His Servants so that we can know Him and His Truth, that we would grow in our faith to soar with Him in youthful vigor, no matter how old we are.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle,
(Psalm 103:1-5).

And as we soar because we have been Nourished by Him, we will be made fit to teach others His Words of Faith and Sound Doctrine. And while this definitely requires some bodily discipline, our main concern should always be that we are first disciplined in our time in His Word, that our hope would be securely fixed as we spend time with Him Who Nourishes His Servants.

On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. 10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. (4:7-10).

Oh, let us pray as we meet Him daily in His Word, that He would grow the Mystery of His Godliness in us, no matter our age; and that we, like Timothy, would be empowered to teach others as an example of living this life by faith through constantly following Him Who Nourishes His Servants.

Prescribe and teach these things. 12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe, (4:11-12).

Let’s Grow Together!

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