Links Daily Devotional

Good Living

…set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12, NIV)

It’s an old joke and rather shaky in theology. You send a shot offline only to see it hit a tree or skip through a bunker—the kind of breaks you wish happened more often. Then from behind you comes the voice of one of your playing partners: “You must be living right.”

I suppose we could be happy for the nod to God’s sovereign work. If your partner believes the premise behind his joke, at least he is allowing that a divine hand has made things better for you. The problem is that he has connected God’s works to yours. In this way, he has made the step from sovereignty to karma.

The economy of God doesn’t work this way. “Bad things” do happen to “good people.” Or, we can more fully say: “Things happen to people. Some of those things are good, and some of them are bad. Just like the people these things happen to.”

I am not speaking as a closet nihilist here. I am not saying, Whatever will be will be. Rather, I am saying that, as followers of Jesus, we do good without reference to our gain. Instead, we do good for his glory.

In Paul’s first letter to the much younger Timothy, where the apostle was giving his protégé every encouragement to minister well among the believers entrusted to his care, Paul supplied Timothy with a fivefold list for demonstrating right living. He told Timothy that in these ways, he was to “set an example.” That is, Timothy’s righteousness was not to be lived unto himself; this was no private faith.

Those who would lead like Timothy, then, set examples in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity:

– The righteous of God, leading others, mind their words.
– The righteous of God, leading others, demonstrate integrity.
– The righteous of God, leading others, lay down their lives for others.
– The righteous of God, leading others, remember Christ in all things.
– The righteous of God, leading others, steer clear of sin.

Noble as that list looks, the greater value comes in understanding its purpose. We are to live that others may see Christ in us and through us. At the close of this chapter, Paul told Timothy to persevere (keep growing) in matters of righteousness, “because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).

It’s fair to say that good living consists of doing good. But it is better by far to say that God-honored living consists of doing good that others might come to know him and be saved.

Jeff Hopper
September 8, 2015
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