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Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16)
Another day, another report of a pastor behaving badly, ruining his reputation, disillusioning his flock, and shipwrecking the witness of Christ’s church. While I know that “there but for the grace of God go I,” I am also resolute in my heartfelt desire to bring God the maximum amount of glory possible through my life.
In Paul’s first letter to his protégé Timothy, he tells him to watch his life and doctrine closely. Let this word be a timely word from God, delivered through me, to you today. First and foremost, watch your life. As Peter writes, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The devil is always looking to gain a foothold in your life through your sin, and make no mistake, his goal is to destroy you. But James gives us the remedy: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Watch your life, and ask others who you trust to watch your life as well. We all need brothers and sisters who will encourage us, hold us accountable, and point out our blind spots so that we might not wreck our lives but instead walk with the Lord.
Secondly, watch your doctrine. If the Word of God is the standard of truth, then “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). In our flesh, we all have a tendency to interpret the Bible in a way that is favorable to our desires. But “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Let God’s Word function as that living sword that shapes you, instead of trying to mold His Word to your desires.
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Paul writes that by persevering in those areas, you will save both yourself and your hearers. The Scottish pastor Robert Murray McCheyne once wrote that “My people’s greatest need is my personal holiness.” You may not be a pastor, but that truth still applies: those who are watching you need to see your holiness, your single-minded devotion to God in both how you live and what you believe. Let this word be a wake-up call to vigilance today.
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