Our Lectio Divina for today:
These are the things I want you to teach and preach. If you have leaders there who teach otherwise, who refuse the solid words of our Master Jesus and this godly instruction, tag them for what they are: ignorant windbags who infect the air with germs of envy, controversy, bad-mouthing, suspicious rumors. Eventually there’s an epidemic of backstabbing, and truth is but a distant memory. They think religion is a way to make a fast buck. A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough. But if it’s only money these leaders are after, they’ll self-destruct in no time. Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after. Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life. 1st Timothy 6: 2b-10; 17-19 (MsgB)
If you’ve been with us so far this week, you’ll recall Paul’s colorful shopping list of evils awaiting Timothy (and us!) as we go forward in our good work, our kalós, for the cause of Christ. Let me review for us today, in alphabetical order, these ugly works of the flesh Paul warns us, as pastoral leaders, to watch out for:
Addiction to lust
Allergies toward God
Contemptuousness toward parents
Hunger for money
Making a show of religion
Spreading demonic illusions
Spreading professional lies
Spreading silly stories
Whew. And if that weren’t enough repulsive stuff to guard ourselves from, let’s add in just a sprinkling more, mentioned in Paul’s text today…
Spreading suspicious rumors
Making religion into a way to make a fast buck
Making truth a distant memory
Yowsers! Are you overwhelmed yet? This list of Paul’s is becoming so large, I’m a bit afraid that our 26 blog sessions just might not be long enough to work through all these bad boys of evil!
Maybe we’re looking at this all wrong. Allow me here to paraphrase for you the creative way my mentor, Pastor John Wimber, described his approach to all these ugly manifestations of the flesh…
“One day, as I was spending yet another time in prayer, agonizing over my many sins, I realized that I was spending nearly all my waking hours trying to be good for Jesus! Something was wrong here, but I wasn’t really clear on what I was feeling. Then, as I waited quietly before the Lord, I heard a soft whisper. ‘John,’ Jesus said, ‘your Christianity has become a drudgery; a shopping list of do’s and don’ts; a work of sin management. Why don’t you stop trying to be good for Me and began spending more time throwing yourself fully into My ministry, My work?’ Bingo. Over time, as I simply gave myself over to being fully involved in the good works of Jesus, I became so enthralled in doing Jesus’ stuff, that I found I didn’t have nearly as much time leftover in my day for sin!”
You see, John Wimber’s journey with Jesus was radically transformed when he stopped trying to manage his sin and simply focused more on living a life of passionate worship and faithful service to God.
In truth, I think Paul here in today’s passage, is suggesting the same thing when he encourages Timothy to spread this message…
Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.
Sin Management vs. Going After God?
For John Wimber, it was a revolutionary change that dramatically transformed his kalós, his work of pastoral ministry, for the remainder of his days.
How about if you and I try the same approach?
My prayer: Father God, it’s obvious that sinfulness and selfishness abound in this decaying world, with literally dozens and dozens of fleshly options that can distort, dis-honor, and dis-avow the kalós, this precious treasure of pastoral ministry, you’ve given me. Yet, as I do my best to avoid these sinful temptations, I can easily become so consumed with sin management that it leaves little time for doing the kalós you’ve asked me to do. Holy Spirit, focus me more on Jesus and His goodness and mercy, believing as I do good, help others, and am extravagantly generous, I will truly gain life that is truly life. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: How has sin management become my primary obsession as a follower of Christ? What might it look like to radically change my mindset here, spending more hours in a day doing good, helping others, and being extravagantly generous than trying to avoid the ugly manifestations of the flesh found in Paul’s shopping list of sins?
So, what is God speaking to you today as you guard the kalós, the precious treasure of pastoral ministry, in your life?
In this 26-session blog series, Kalós: Guarding the Precious Treasure, we explore the kalós*, this precious treasure of pastoral ministry that has been deposited into us by the work of the Holy Spirit. We invite you to come along with us, bookmarking this blog’s home page for easy, on-going referencing.
As you go through this blog series, we also suggest that you use the ancient tool of Lectio Divina as you approach each scriptural text we give you in this blog. Lectio Divina is a slow, intentional reading of the Holy Scriptures. Take your time as you ponder the text slowly, allowing the Holy Spirit to illuminate God’s Word for you as you read. Ask the Master as you read, “Jesus, what in this passage do I need to hear today?”
*So, what is kalós?
Kalós comes from a New Testament Greek word which simply means “good.” The apostle Paul, when writing to his young apprentice, Timothy, decided to combine this common adjective, kalós, with a second Greek word, parathéké, a noun which means a deposit or trust committed to one’s charge. As a result, the apostle ends up with one, very powerful phrase! A command that both Timothy, and you and I, truly need to take note of as we continue this ancient work of serving Christ and His Church! “Guard this kalós (this good work, this beautiful deposit, this precious treasure) placed in your custody by the Holy Spirit who works in us.” 2nd Timothy 1: 14