Paul writes, “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this, you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” (1 Timothy 4:15-16) Paul calls his son in the faith to meditate on a short but poignant list of things he has laid out clearly for him to consider and act upon about himself and those he is responsible for loving and shepherding in Jesus’ name throughout this pastoral epistle. When many of us in a Western church context think of meditation, we often think of eastern mysticism and the new age movement. Yet here, Paul’s instruction is not just a challenge of intellectual assent, instructing him to “think about these things” only, but to call him to a whole person in response to His instruction that incorporates not only the mind, but heart, soul, and strength.
Timothy is not only to shepherd the flock of God but his own life as well. All of us, including those who lead in the church, would do well to remember their identity as beloved and blessable children of God. Faithfully serving others as fellow heirs of the Grace of God. Anyone who has the privilege of helping others in God’s house must never come to the place of thinking we have arrived or are above God’s people. We are to be those who create a culture of love. As a reminder, this is where all this began as Paul writes, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1:5) We should take note that Paul says “our charge,” including Timothy, is the larger community of leadership for the first-century church as a younger man.
Anyone who has the privilege of helping others in God’s house must never come to the place of thinking we have arrived or are above God’s people. We are to be those who create a culture of love.
For you Bible nerds out there, the Greek word used by Paul for “meditate” is meletaō. This means to improve by care or study, practice, or cultivation. There is implied action required to fulfill this instruction to “young” Timothy. Then, if this is not just an intellectual exercise, what does it mean for Timothy to “meditate on these things?” He is to not only know but practice them and in doing so, be an example to all. Paul writes, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12) He also tells Titus, “…in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility…” (Titus 2:6–7) We would also do well to not neglect the instruction of our brother Peter who says, “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away..” (1 Peter 5:1–4) So, each of us should seek to be an example worthy of following. Never forget someone is always watching, listening, and learning from your example. What do they see?