Lesson 12 -- first quarter 2003
February 16, 2003
© Copyright 2002, Christian Light Publications
Well reported of
The Christians in two different cities spoke well of that young man Timothy. What they saw in him and heard from him left a positive impression on them. Their good testimony of him resulted directly from what they observed in him and in his manner of living. Timothy had a good reputation in the church because he had Christian character in his heart.
What kind of report does your life generate?
So many people want their reputation to be according to the condition of their hearts. And that is not wrong. But they don't want to be judged according to the observable portions of their lives. And that is absurdly silly. Everybody knows that no human can see the condition of another person's heart. So how can someone's reputation be based on the condition of their heart? Easy! The observable portions of a person's life weave themselves together to form a generally-clear indication of the condition of his heart. Thus a reputation is born.
That means the observable part of my life -- what I say, what I do, where I go, how I act, how I speak, how I look -- all matter very much. It also means that people are justified in forming their impression and testimony of me on the basis of what they can readily observe in me. My friend, we dare not excuse careless living by insisting that our heart is OK and that's all that matters!
Listen to what Jesus said: "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit" (Matthew 7:18). I wonder how many people try to prove otherwise, expecting observers to notice careless living but still give a good report. Avoid that foolish error and accept the reality that your reputation will result from your observable life. And again I say, that is a justifiable and legitimate reality. Listen again to Jesus' words, this time in Luke 6:45 -- "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh."
We cannot avoid concluding that our deeds and our works matter greatly to God. So we should care about them as well! May we each carefully and vigorous strive to bring our living in line with our profession. The Apostle Paul commended Timothy along with his mother and grandmother for this kind of genuine faith (2 Timothy 1:5).
Oh, one more thought and verse along this line. Beyond being the basis of our reputation, what we do serves to identify us. "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother." (1 John 3:10).
The proof of him
In writing to the Philippian church, Paul spoke of their experience with and approval of Timothy. Did you notice on what their opinion was based? On his submissive service! And that is precisely how matters are to work in the kingdom of Christ: "Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister" (Matthew 20:26). Jesus also said, "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (Luke 14:11). In today's lesson alone we note three different congregations that held Timothy in high esteem. I think Paul gave a good summary of the reasons in Philippians 2:20,21. You see, Timothy was a person who put Jesus first. And because of that, he naturally cared for others.
In this day of personal independence and selfish individualism, God needs people whose life's proof is Jesus First! In this age of materialism, worldliness, and carelessness, God wants servants who live for the future by putting others first. Shall we do so?
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