Read 1 Timothy 4:1-10.
We live in a time and culture that expects, yea demands, to hear all things religious put across in a positive way. No doubt part of the reason such is the norm today is in conscious (and unconscious) reaction to the “stick it to the enemy” approach that characterized so much of “gospel preaching” and “Bible teaching” in a generation past. We’re simply reaping today what was sown yesterday; unbalanced presentations in time past made for unbalanced reactions today.
Lambasting, debate-style preaching did not serve God’s people well in time past and a refusal to listen to anything except “the positive” doesn’t serve us well today. Here, the Holy Spirit of God tells us through Paul that in ordered to be considered “a good minister” of God (and ultimately “by” God), one must include words of admonition and corrections. Wake-up calls and warnings must be included in a Christian’s diet lest they turn to trying to live on spiritual fluff or junk food.
Allow me to be a good minister to you here and be clear – today’s common expectation on preachers to always be “positive” about faith and to be ever “tolerant” of virtually any teaching that sails under a Christian flag is just as wrong as the “condemnation Christianity” or “gospel of guilt” that ruled (and still rules) in many Christian circles.
So consider again just four of the sort of things Paul said would characterize some of what a good minister would remind people about:
- Some Christians are tempted to abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. (4:1)
- Some teachings about Christ come through hypocritical liars who have no conscience. (4:2)
- Some of what gets commonly peddled in Christ’s name today consists of purely man-made teaching which defies God’s character. (4:3)
- Some godless myths and old wives’ tales circulate among God’s people. (4:7)
All of which Paul had in mind when he wrote:
“If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.” (4:6)
Or perhaps a mental image for illustration will communicate this truth to us – if your minister was a traffic light, would you consider him to be “a good one” if only his green light worked? We all would hope not for we all know disorder and death would be the ultimate fruit of his ministry.
May all of us who are teachers and preachers of God’s good news never shy away from saying what needs to be said that is best for the protection and provision of the people of God, the church. And may the church ever encourage her teachers and preachers to give the good news to them straight, spin-free, whether they want to hear it or not.