First Timothy 4 jumps out at me today in my time with the Lord as Scripture that I know He wants me to share. Let me start by working backwards.
1 Timothy 4:14 says, “Do not neglect the gift you have.”
In this context, Paul, the author of the majority of the New Testament, is writing to a younger disciple, Timothy. Although Timothy is younger than most leaders of the present time, he has an incredible gift of teaching. What I love about this chapter is the encouragement that Paul gives his young friend that we can also interpret as Christ’s encouragement in our own lives.
So this he says, do not neglect the gift you have.
So I ask myself, what is my gift? Scripture repeats over and over again to not focus on our weakness, for God covers us when we are weak, but to focus on our strengths and use them to bring God glory.
In the current season of life, God has not only given me a gift of softball, but also to express His work in my life through the form of writing. With this said, I feel compelled to share with you today without delay exactly what He has put on my heart.
A few weeks ago I broke down emotionally and spiritually. During a road series in Ohio, I realized the reality of softball coming to an end. I am not saying that my playing days are done forever, but a lot of factors will go into whether or not I return to the Bandits for the 2014 season. With my limited playing time in the regular line-up, the thought crossed my mind that I could have taken the last at-bat of my entire life. And that thought, I couldn’t handle.
I recognized that I was never going to be ready to stop playing softball. But that when God did call me out of the game, it would be because He would have a new, direct calling for my life. What I know is that He will never stop calling me to use my gifts for His glory.
And, after all, my identity and my life is a follower of Jesus and not a professional softball player. The peace that the Lord ended up granting me only confirms what Paul writes previously in this chapter.
1 Timothy 4:7-8 says, “Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also the life to come.”
It is of some value, the time I have spent training in my life. I have spent countless hours of weight lifting, sprinting, fly balls, and batting practice. And this hard work was not vain because I worked to improve every season of my college career. God granted me joy and passion for the sport and has allowed me and blessed me to participate at the highest level.
But godliness, Paul says. That’s what counts in every way. Physical training will come to an end. I will not be an elite athlete forever, whether than ends in 5 days or in 5 years. I may leave a legacy behind, but my playing days are temporary. However, godliness has a reward that is eternal. It holds value in every way because we get the opportunity to utilize our relationship with God in every aspect of our life. Not only so, but it also holds a promise for both this life and the next.
We can approach our spiritual training in the same way we approach our physical training. We spend time in His Word. We seek instruction from mentors. We learn and participate in Christ with others in community, so that we can be sharpened in our faith and our relationship with Him. By doing so, we are not neglecting the greater gift of eternal life that He has given us.
The last part I want to share from this chapter is verse 12.
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”
Don’t let the lie that you are not fast enough keep you from running the race. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are unworthy of the full benefits of a relationship with God and the gift of eternal life. You are worthy to accept the gift of His grace. Verse 10 says that God is alive and the Savior of all people. You are qualified to accept the gift of eternal life. You have Christ in you and His power to overcome. You have His power to choose godliness and to be disciplined enough to participate in His training.
What is standing in the way? We are all called to practice our faith and to see progress (verse 15). We are called to not neglect the gifts we have and the Ultimate Gift we have been given—no matter where God may call us in life.