Paul gives Timothy the keys to an effective ministry: “Be continually being conscientious about how you live and what you teach.”
Paul describes twelve characteristics of a mature servant of God (1 Tim 4:6–-16): He is a good servant (4:6); he warns of error (4:6:a); he is an expert student of Scripture (4:6c); he avoids unholy teachings (4:7a); he disciplines himself in godliness (4:7b–-9); he is committed to hard work (4:10); he teaches with authority (4:11); he is a model of spiritual virtue (4:12); he ministers the word (4:13); he fulfills his calling (4:14); he is totally absorbed in his work (4:15a); and he is growing spiritually (4:15b).
To accomplish the goal of being a servant of God, he must “be conscientious about how [he] live[s].” The word conscientious means “to have hold of, to fix the mind upon”; he must focus his mind and understanding on his own duties, his own gifts, his own opportunities, and his own life. He must make sure before he teaches someone else a principle or command in Scripture that he actually practices it. The student will know whether this is so or not, so it is useless to fake it.
Also, he is to focus on “what [he] teach[es].” The servant of God does not make up teachings but clarifies and explains what God said and then adapts the application to contemporary situations without changing the original intent.
Once he is certain that he understands the original historical meaning of the text, he has the confidence to teach with authority. The result is “strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:22).
“By doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you”: salvation is by grace through faith, not by our works (Eph 2:6–-8; Titus 3:3), but holy living and sound teaching are a fruit of true faith and facilitate the same in others’ lives.
James said, “Let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20). Leaders must be above reproach in order to avoid becoming a stumbling block to sinners seeking to know a genuine truth. Will they see it in you?
“Thank You, Lord, for bringing people into my life to keep me faithful to Your word. Help me today to remember Your commands and practice them in my relationships.”