Paul has some great warnings for Timothy and for those in leadership in the church, not just in Ephesus but for the Church today. If there were warning labels on leadership positions within the Church, they might look like this:
1. Don’t get sidetracked from the mission and calling.
Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God. The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. But some people have missed the whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussion (1 Timothy 1:4-6).
2. Know in your heart that you are right with God.
Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked (1 Tim. 1:19).
3. Live a life of integrity.
So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him…In the same way, deacons must be well respected and have integrity…Those who do well as deacons will be rewarded with respect from others and will have increased confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 3:2-13).
4. Live a godly life.
Train yourself to be godly. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. This I why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers (1 Tim. 4:7b-10).
5. Beware of the love of money.
To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy. Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.
But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows (1 Tim. 6:5b-10).
6. Run from evil and pursue righteousness.
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 so well before many witnesses (1 Tim. 6:11-12).
What great advice for us today. There are so many things this world would love to use to trip us up, so many ways in which the enemy would love to get our focus off of God and onto ourselves. He feeds us with all kinds of lies and temptations but we have a faith that fights for the truth! We aren’t weakly trying to defend ourselves from the enemy. We are strongly pursuing God and His righteousness and the holy life to which He calls us!