If you’re new here, I would love to have you join our community. You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook or subscribe by email so you don’t miss a thing!
Since there’s been a break, I’m curious how you are doing?
Have you maintained your health routine from our Week 1 challenge? I committed to trying to rise in the morning an hour earlier and go running. Unfortunately, I’ve had a hiccup in that area too. But I continue to work on this.
What about your morning devotion as part of our Week 2 challenge? Are you still taking the time to read and pray each morning before your feet hit the floor? I have continued this and I am enjoying the feeling of “readiness” every day that comes after I spend time with God.
Our Week 3 challenge had to do with guarding our tongues. How many verses did you post? And have you memorized them by now? And have you taken this challenge a step further by employing some of the practical tips I suggested? Tips like asking a friend to hold you accountable? Or practicing the spiritual discipline of “quiet” or talking less. This is a challenge that I work diligently on. I hope you are, as well.
As we move on to Week 4 we’re going to talk about Appearance. I bet you’re expecting me to talk about getting dressed every day! Or worse – actually putting make-up on every day! HA! And while I do think that is part of self-discipline, which we discussed in Week 1, that’s not where I’m headed with this topic. And to put you at rest, if you could see me right now you’d know I’m no June Cleaver! Ok?
I’ve read that when the US mint decides to make a new coin they commission an artist to make a drawing. It is required by law that the motto, “In God We Trust” be included. From the drawing they carve a large master template with exquisite detail into a piece of plaster. That template is then scaled down through a series of steps and copied in reverse onto a piece of relatively soft steel which is the size of the coin to be made. That master die is then hardened by intense heat and once it passes final inspection it is finally placed in the press. Depending on the specific coin being made that die will strike bare metal with the force of more than 100 tons thousands of times a day (about 750 new coins per minute!) and every single time it will leave behind a perfect replica of the original artists drawing in three dimensional metal alloy.
In 1 Timothy 4:11-12 we read:
These are the things you must insist on and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
Paul writes to Timothy and urges him to be an example. The word example comes from the idea of “to strike” and indicates the mark made by that strike. Like the US Mint’s painstakingly created, fire hardened die you and I are commanded to be an example which will leave an indelible impression on the lives of those around us so that they will know “In God We Trust”. This means more than that we are merely an example for others to emulate but that we are a hardened mold which should be pressed into the lives of others so that they attain the same shape.
In other words, I’m equating appearance to behaving in such a manner as to leave a lasting impression. And that is exactly what Paul commands Timothy to do. We need to guard our way of life. Watch what you do that it mirrors Christ; because I can guarantee others will notice when it doesn’t. If you are going to mold others to the image of Christ than your general conduct had best be of godliness.
Now, I know being a pastor’s wife and woman in ministry would seem to preclude this discussion as unnecessary. We’ve discussed the first two areas in which Paul states we are to be an example: speech and conduct. How about love, faith, and purity?
Love is the highest order of business in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:13). First the unimpeded love of God and second the love of your fellow man. The love described here comes from the Greek word agape. Of the four words used for “love” in the Bible, this is the one most used to describe Christian virtue. In every defining passage, agape love means “sacrifice”. In my own experience nothing leaves a more significant impression than sacrificial love.
By all means we would expect faith to define a maturing Christian. It means believing the essentials of Christianity. It means obedience to the principles of the Bible. It means assurance of things not seen. In means, “an attitude characterizing [your] entire existence, the genuinely Christian demeanor that [you] should preserve [even] amid struggle.” 1
Purity originally meant sexual purity but more broadly in many New Testament passages, including this one, it refers to the absence of corruption. Purity, as it’s used here, stems from having a holy awe of God, and that, by implication, means that we are to be morally pure not by mere rule following but rather as a response to God’s revealed holiness. In other words, purity is achieved by being exposed to God so that we can say, ” I am holy because He is holy!”
Week 4 Challenge: Appearance
So how do we create a challenge for this area? I admit it’s been difficult to come up with something that could be a tangible “first step.” But as I prayed, my point about showing sacrificial love kept coming to mind. So here’s what I want you to do: Step out of your everyday life, your comfort zone of ministry, find an individual that is in need of your sacrificial love and do something tangible for them. Maybe it’s a single mother who needs groceries or their oil changed. Maybe it’s a mom who has a special needs child and rarely gets a break. Or maybe it is a neighbor (who chaps your hide ) that needs their lawn mowed. Sacrifice of yourself this week. Make an indelible, lasting, and GODLY impression.
1 Horst Robert Balz and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, Translation of: Exegetisches Worterbuch Zum Neuen Testament. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990-c1993), 3:97.