It is an unfortunate and sometimes true argument in our day that Christians are hypocrites, and that’s reason enough for others to decide not to check out the Jesus thing. This isn’t new; it was an issue that Paul addressed to Timothy, too. Rather than marinate too long on the issues, Paul moves quickly to encourage Timothy to live differently – words we, as believers and Christ-followers, would be wise to learn from and implement, too.
“Do not waste time arguing … Instead, train yourself to be godly” (1 Timothy 4:7). What does he mean by ‘godly?’ Well, Paul tells us! “Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity” (verse 12). Just before Jesus is betrayed, he gives his followers a new command, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). Perhaps following Paul’s advice and Jesus’ command is our way of living this out!
We will be known by our love, church. We can have all the Jesus-knowledge in the world, and even hold those leadership positions Paul mentions back in chapter three, but if we don’t walk the walk, we’re totally missing the point and we fall into that ‘hypocrite’ category. And, this is really important, because it’s not just our salvation at stake – it also impacts those watching us who believe us to be examples of what it means to follow Christ (1 Timothy 4:16).
Questions for reflection:
- Read Genesis 1:27. In what image are both male and female created? Training ourselves to be godly means embracing that we are image-bearers of God.
- How do you live out love in action?
- Who, in your immediate context, might be watching your faith walk? It might be your kids, friends, coworkers, or neighbors (or all the above). This is a hard question but important – are you showing them a life that points to Christ, or maybe one that seems a bit hypocritical? (There’s no judgment here, brothers and sisters. It’s simply a good reality check, and we all always have room to grow!)