Just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday (and a much-needed reprieve for our office!) comes this devotion in today’s spot, from Jonathan Mumme–a reminder of the gift we have that holds the whole thing together.
Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift [charisma] you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:11-16, ESV)
Poor Timothy—what a load! Paul, his “father in the faith,” has left town, sticking him with quite the laundry list. And yet that sounds an awful lot like typical Christianity, doesn’t it? Taking the burden from your shoulders and laying a dozen in its place. Hit atonement like a drive-thru, and with that bag in hand, speed off to the highway of “the Christian life” of moral responsibility, Scripture reading, character-building. Christianity somehow became a life of holy burdens.
There in the middle of all that is given him to do, though, is that which is given to him wholly and fully. The sine qua non—neglect it and it will all fall apart—is the charisma (gift) in him.
The certainty with which Paul approaches the ministry is the same certainty under which Timothy gets to operate: if the Lord has put him to it, the Lord himself will do it, and the Lord has certainly put him to it. Is Timothy the one saving or preserving himself and his hearers, or is God Himself the Savior of all, including Timothy and his hearers? Paul says it is not an either/or: God saves, and Timothy is responsible for the saving where he has been placed. It is not God without Timothy, nor is it God x% and Timothy x%, but God fully and Timothy fully. Whatever saving Timothy is set to be doing, it will be the Lord doing it, and that goes for the ordering, reading, preaching, teaching and the rest of this grand, long list of things given to do along with the gift given.
Where do you feel you and God are working 50-50? Where does God feel absent or dormant? Where does his presence feel all too present?
What is to be done in the Church is what God himself gives to be done. Toward that doing He gives gifts. Tasks given, gift given, to Paul and Timothy and others who are surely put in place; it is the Lord, the Savior, seeing to the whole show.