"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
In Romans 15:2, Paul encourages "Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up." Often, good leaders naturally like to please people. How can we best ensure that we are doing so for their good and to truly build them up?
To understand the application of Romans 15:2, we must first understand the previous verse which states, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves." That phrase “obligation to bear with the failings of the weak” carries with it the whole moral of the story which is, to help or prevent the fall of another brother/sister. The same word “neighbor” used in verse two is the same type of reference used in Luke 10:36, which points out that this person is not just a worldly neighbor, but one who shares a common bond with us such as a fellow church member. Our “obligation” here is to remind our fellow brethren of the love of God in their life. We are to remind them of the grace and mercy of God which allowed them to be saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Spirit. This “obligation to bear” carries with it a responsibility, not how we have seen modeled in the churches around our country today, but to walk with this fallen comrade through the trenches of their spiritual warfare and restoration.
“Bearing” with the failings of our brothers and sisters requires us to have our walk with God in order. Our lecture mentions that, “Importantly for the Christian leader, each model must be approached with Christian ethics and a Christian worldview firmly in place.” The same principles are required when dealing with the restoration of a fallen comrade or the assistance to avoid their fall. We must be rooted in the Word and live a lifestyle worthy of our testimony in order to assist others who have fallen. The following verse two tells us to “please his neighbor for his good, to build him up." When we see this word in this context today, we assume that this means to make our neighbor happy or to satisfy them by their flesh desires.
I am sure our neighbor would be happy and pleased for us to throw them a backyard cookout. However, this is not the context in which this phrase is used in this verse. If our brother is having an issue with sexual immorality, throwing him a backyard cookout and inviting many friends to come over wouldn’t be the solution to his problem. This phrase is meaning to make them spiritually “pleased” by assisting them to get out of their backslidden state. In this context, to please him would sound something more like inviting him to a twice a week men’s Bible study focused on the topics of what it means to be a man for God’s will and purpose. Whatever the situation and your means of being a good “neighbor”, it should assist with restoring that person’s relationship with God and set a Christ-like example for them to follow.
In 1 Timothy 4:16, Paul warns his young protégé Timothy, "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.” Out of all the things that a young leader could be concerned about, why do you think Paul focused a watchful eye on self and teaching?
Paul warned Timothy to keep a watchful eye on self and teaching for several reasons. One of the hardest tasks to accomplish as a Christian leader is too remained focused on our calling. In ministry it can become easy to be distracted by many elements. When we take our eyes off the “mission” God has given us, it leaves us susceptible for other attacks as well. When a leader is “mission” minded fulfilling the calling of God, the enemy loves few things more than to be able to distract and interrupt God’s work.
From the beginning of chapter four, Paul has been given spiritual and moral guidance regarding how to be the best Christian leader and Minister Timothy can be. Paul is warning Timothy to be on guard for false teachers, doctrines, to warn other Christians of their sin, and even how to “train yourself to be godly” (v.7). Verses 11-14 instruct Timothy how to be a good leader and example, free from moral failure. Verse 16 only continues this trend by telling him as another version of 1 Timothy 4:15 says to, “Watch your life and doctrine closely.”
Paul, being the great mentor and leader that he was had a vast knowledge of what it took to be a spiritual leader. Now, since his conversion he was a Christian leader who also knew the Judaic laws, customs, and traditions. He knew the commandments, character, and moral expectations God had for His people. Paul was a perfect Christian Leader’s mentor as he came from a formerly educated Jewish and Roman background. From his conversion experience and his educational background he could understand what it was that people saw and expected different from the Christians than the Jew. Paul understood the value of not only looking good (the Jewish method), but also being good at heart (Christ’s way). Paul knew that if Timothy could be distracted by all the false doctrines and temptations that come with leadership, he would also soon be teaching these beliefs as well. This would not only lead to his inevitable demise, but also that of all those believers under his leadership. These things are easily crept in when there are distractions all around, however if we stand firm on the Word of God we can stop these things in their paths before they ever arrive.