How To Realize Your Potential for God
1 Timothy 4:12-16
Introduction: Are you being all that you can be for God? Are we realizing the potential that God made us with? Have you ever stopped to ask yourself questions like this? What will it be like at the Judgment Seat of Christ when I give an account of what I did with my life here on earth? Truth is one day we will have to do just that. God will ask us to give an answer for the way we lived our life and what we did for Him. Just the thought of that coming experience should motivate us to be all we can be for Him.
Paul was instructing Timothy on how to be a good pastor at the church at Ephesus. It was like other churches in that it had its own set of challenges to be faced. In their case there was false teaching coming from deceitful pretenders that was dividing the church. Paul sought to help Timothy to do the very best job that he could as a pastor of a difficult church. He desired that Timothy would achieve all that he could for the glory of God.
From Paul’s instructions we can gain some insight as well not only how to be an effective pastor, but also how each of us can realize our potential for the Lord.
1. Identify your circumstances and overcome them (v. 12)
a. Timothy was at a slight disadvantage because he was younger than those he was trying to lead.
b. Not only could others look down on him because of his age, he might have thought that it was a problem himself.
c. His age and what others thought about it was not something that he could control.
d. Many times the circumstances that we find ourselves in are beyond our control.
e. We can’t make people respond to us the way that we would like, even when they are younger than us. Even our children we may be able to make them sit down but they might be standing on the inside!
f. Since we can’t control our circumstances what can we do?
g. Take Paul’s advice, do what we can do something about, ourselves!
h. He tells Timothy to be an example. Be the impression, the benchmark or the blue print of what a Christian is supposed to be. What he is saying is to model Jesus Christ in all that you do as a demonstration of what a believer is. Be an example of and to those who believe.
i. I have heard people excuse themselves and say things like, “I can’t do that, I am just not that good of a Christian”. It helps us to feel better because we think that perhaps if I don’t expect too much of myself maybe God won’t either? Understand that God expects the same thing from all of us. He expects us to be totally compliant to His will.
j. Paul tells him how to be in compliance, how to be the benchmark:
i. In what he says
ii. In his day to day living
iii. In the way he loves
iv. In his convictions to the truth
v. In his purity and sinlessness
k. We will have to give an answer for ourselves before God someday. Does that list describe us? We can be that way as the Holy Spirit controls us amid any circumstances that we are in. If we are to realize our potential for God we need to look like that too!
2. Identify your calling and pursue it (v.13)
a. Timothy was called to be a pastor. He was responsible to see that the word of God was:
i. Read publicly – that the Scriptures be heard in the services
ii. Taught – that the truths of the Scriptures were explained and learned.
iii. Preached – that he exhorted people to change their actions because of the demands of a Holy God.
b. Paul and the elders had given Timothy a charge to pastor the church at Ephesus. His call was to be a pastor and so he was to pursue the things that a pastor did.
c. Do you know what you are supposed to be doing? Do you sense that you have been called for God for a specific task?
d. If not, you need to identify it as soon as possible. Life is short and we need to be about the business that God placed us on this earth to do.
e. If you don’t know what it is for you, let me help you in a general way. God wants you to become more like His Son every day. He wants you to demonstrate that the Spirit of God is controlling you everyday. He wants you to be a man or a woman of God everyday.
f. He is not as much as interested in what we do for a living as much as what we are. God expect us to be godly, or godlike and he wants us to pursue a living relationship with Him.
3. Identify your charisma and develop it (v.14)
a. The word translated “spiritual gift” is the word charisma. It refers to the extraordinary ability to serve God by serving others that was given to us freely at the time of salvation.
b. Paul tells Timothy not to neglect his gift. He knew exactly what his was because it was described by a prophetic utterance at the time of his commissioning, a luxury that we don’t get!
c. Interesting that even when Timothy knew exactly what his gift was he had to be reminded to use it here and in 2 Timothy he was reminded again to fan it into flame because it had began to grow cold.
d. Are you neglecting your gift? Does it need to be “dusted off” and put back to work?
e. Do you even know what it is?
f. Charisma is easily identifiable
i. There will be a God given ability
ii. It will be accompanied by a Holy Spirit led sensitivity
iii. You can tell by others receptivity
g. Put it to work!
4. Identify your commitment and stick to it (v.15)
a. There is a progression of thought in Paul’s instructions.
i. Be an example
ii. Understand what you are supposed to be doing
iii. Don’t forget to use your God given ability
iv. Be focused on your task!
b. Once you understand what you are to be doing give it your best effort.
c. Look around you today. See all the decorations that have been created for VBS. It is a result of people using their gifts for God’s glory not just to decorate a room, but create an atmosphere of excitement where people of all ages will be excited about hearing and learning the word of God.
d. People have gone to great pains to make sure that the Bible has an impact in the lives of people this week. I think it is great that people have put themselves into the effort.
e. The effort that people have made is very measurable in this case. It was work but it will be worth it. They enjoyed doing it, and I hope will enjoy taking it down! We can see that progress has been made each week. Tonight it all begins, I hope you will come. I hope you will bring your neighbors. I am praying that God would use us greatly and that may will put their faith in Jesus Christ.
f. How committed are you to the ministry that God has given you?
g. Is our progress measurable? Progress means advancement in spite of opposition.
h. Perhaps Timothy wanted to quit the ministry because of the opposition that he faced, sometimes we might feel the same way. Don’t quit! Instead let other see that you are progressing in your relationship with the Lord by loving the difficult ones all the more!
5. Identify your personal challenges and master them (v.16)
a. It is possible to get so engrossed in doing the right things in ministry that we forget the basics and get off track.
b. Paul tells Timothy that while he is doing all these things that he needs to be in the “self test” mode.
c. Pay close attention to yourself, make sure that you are continuing to walk with the Lord on a private level. Don’t simply appear to serve the Lord outwardly, but make sure that inwardly you are being nourished by the word of God.
d. We all have things that we struggle with and things that would draw us away from the Lord and the things that He wants us to do. We need to keep a watch over our own souls and when that is not enough enlist some others to keep us accountable!
e. If we will do that we will keep ourselves safe (saved) from the false teachings that are out there waiting to destroy us and others.
Conclusion: You can’t be all that you can be by simply joining the military! The only way to accomplish that goal is to walk with the Lord, to feed on His Word, and to work for His glory! Pay attention to yourself and keep on the right course!
1 Timothy 4:12-16 (NASB95)
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. 13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. 15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. 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.