Devotion - An Essential Factor in Training for Service
W. E. Vine, Bath
One of the outstanding features of the first Christians was their utter devotion to the service of God. Timothy was a striking example of this; nor does this surprise us when we remember that it is said of him: ‘from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures’, 2 Tim. 3. 15. A diligent use of the Scriptures will keep alive the fires of our devotion. In the light of 2 Timothy 1. 5-6, where mention is made of his mother and grandmother, we are not far out in inferring that in his earliest days instruction in the Word of God had been given to him by each of these godly women. He had not only been taught by them, but he had evidently been helped to meditate in the Word of Truth. By these Scriptures (i.e., the Old Testament Scriptures, which constituted Timothy’s Bible) he had become a ‘man of God’, 1 Tim. 6. 11, ‘faithful in the Lord’, 1 Cor. 4. 17, and finally ‘a good soldier of Jesus Christ’, 2 Tim. 2. 3. Paul’s further testimony to this younger fellow-labourer, who had been commended by elder brethren to him and whom he had taken with him as a companion in missionary enterprise, is traceable, no doubt, to his knowledge of the Word of God. We have a striking example of this in Philippians 2. Timothy’s knowledge of, and love for the Scriptures, had produced in him a beautiful spirit of devotion. Here the apostle brings it out in a threefold way.
Devotion to Christ
In verse 21 the apostle says, ‘For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s’. This statement, though negative in character, provides a positive testimony concerning him. For when the apostle says of others, ‘all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s’, he clearly implies that it was otherwise in Timothy’s case, and that he sought not his own things but Christ’s. The Lord’s glory was paramount in all his ministry. His service was rendered not for its own sake, but for the sake of the Lord Jesus. What a grand testimony to have! The Holy Spirit, who is the Author of the Scriptures, uses them not merely to equip us for our service, but in order that by the Word of God we may learn to use our energies for the glory of Christ, and that our whole heart’s devotion may be set on Him. That is the message to us from this witness to Timothy. The Scriptures that he had been taught exercised, as they should do in the lives of those who are privileged to have a more extended Bible, a marked influence, drawing his heart towards the one centre, the Lord Jesus Christ. In the measure in which our service is rendered to Him and for His glory, so is it acceptable to God. This younger man, no doubt, drank deeply of the spirit of his senior partner in toil, whose aim it was that ‘Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death’, Phil. 1. 20.
Devotion to the Welfare of the Saints
In verses 19 and 20 the apostle says, ‘But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally (i.e., genuinely) care for your state’. Timothy had a real pastor’s heart, and sought the welfare of the saints. He was no hireling. Our brethren who labour in other lands, and those who have similar work in this land, know what trial and difficulty are involved in caring for converts and how greatly this service casts one upon God. Men like Timothy are much needed today. How many assemblies are languishing for want of shepherd care!
Devotion to his Fellow-Worker
The apostle could say of Timothy, ‘as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel’, verse 22. Timothy knew what it was to be a true yoke-fellow; he knew how ‘to keep in step’. Two men walking together out of step are apt occasionally to jostle one another. There was no such awkwardness in Timothy’s walk; he served as a son with a father. There was a manifestation of subjection; there was a willingness to listen to counsel. Timothy did not act independently of Paul, and Paul recognized all that was of God in Timothy. Thus sharing the apostle’s toils and dangers, he learned to enjoy the peace and comfort derived from the Scriptures. How often do we, like him, rest on the promises of the Word of God? How often do we derive such comfort? It is the Word of God that becomes the strength and solace of our souls, and that strength is all the greater if our memories have been stored with the Scriptures in early days.
Let us now revert to this. We began with Paul’s statement concerning Timothy, ‘from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures’. There is an urgent claim upon us for the training of the young minds over which we have charge, that we may do for them what was done for Timothy. The effects of higher criticism and new theology are widespread today; thus the dangers for our young people are increased. The Devil has done his work persistently, systematically and thoroughly, during recent years. What diligence we need in forearming the young mind against the insidious attacks of infidelity and scepticism! There is a widespread tendency today to call into question the validity of the Word of God and to explain away the miraculous in it. Against this, a beginning must be made in the home. There is a great power in the cumulative effect of the constant reading of the Scriptures, and that not in a haphazard, helter-skelter fashion, but in regular course. Timothy knew the Holy Scriptures and not merely a part of them. Thank God for any homes where the Word of God is read and instruction given therefrom daily. Much is gained by systematic, regular reading straight through the Book. The Law, the Psalms and the Prophets, all had their effect on Timothy. So in the young potential missionaries and servants of the Lord of today, the Scriptures are to become a power which will enable them to render effectual service. It is in the home, in the Assembly, in the Sunday School, in the Bible Study Class, that the armour-plate should be forged which should be proof against the batteries of scepticism and infidelity. In view of the aggression of the enemy, necessity is laid upon us to get our young people thoroughly established in the truth of the divine origin, inspiration, and claims of the entire Scriptures. Thus they will become a bulwark against the abounding errors of today.