As I read through Paul’s first letter to Timothy, I ask myself what God might have for me today. A lot of what Paul is writing about is related to church conduct but I’m wondering if He might have a word for me today hidden in 1Timothy.
As a woman called by God into leadership, I can take offense at some of what Paul says in his letter to Timothy. Take the following verses as an example, verses the Church has used for years to define the role women should have in the Church.
Women, should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. But women will be saved through childbearing, assuming they continue to live in faith, holiness, and modesty. – 1 Timothy 2:11-15
We do not know what was going on in the Church in Ephesus at this time, but it is possible that Paul’s words were meant to correct a specific situation going on in the church. If we take these verses in context to Paul’s other letters, we are reminded that we are all ONE in Christ Jesus, no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female (Galatians 3:28).
So , instead of feeling defensive, I find peace in knowing that God’s love for women is not matched by Paul’s directives to the Church in Ephesus, which speak to the culture of those days as well as to the life that still exists for women today in the Middle East. In fact, being reminded of my call this morning and being humbled by the incredible opportunities God has given me – me, who deserves none of these blessings – I find myself relating to Paul instead of arguing with him.
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.
This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” – and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen. – 1 Timothy 1:12-17
What a great opportunity to stop and consider what God has called us to do – what He has uniquely equipped each of us to do according to the spiritual gifts He has given us, male and female. Timothy was a young man called by God and Paul urged Him to FOLLOW HIS CALLING in spite of the meaningless opinions of others around him. As a servant listens to his Master, so we should listen closely to our God and live as He calls us to live – doing what HE tells us to do and saying what HE tells us to say.
Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles. Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. – 1 Timothy 1:18-19a
Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. – 1 Timothy 4:12-13
Do not neglect the spiritual gift you have received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you. Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress. Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you. – 1 Timothy 4:14-16
But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed before many witnesses. – 1 Timothy 6:11-12
Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. Some people have wandered from the faith by following such foolishness. May God’s grace be with you all. – 1 Timothy 6:20-21