Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:15)
Life is busy. Many things are vying for our attention. Good things. Necessary things. But above all things, nothing matters more than our life and teaching. On Sunday, we were reminded of why our attention to these things is of great importance – for by persisting in them we will save both ourself and others. So Paul says, practice and immerse yourself. Be intentional. Be consistent. Right living and right teaching takes work.
So what can you do to see progress in your life and teaching? Here are two recommendations:
1) Keep a close watch on yourself.
These questions, developed by John Wesley in the 18th century, help us to more intentionally consider our “speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity” (4:12). Regularly use them as a guide to help you identify the areas of sin in your life.
- Have you been consistently pursuing the Lord through satisfying devotional times, scripture reading, and prayer?
- How are you spending time with your family and leading your home?
- Have you seen any persistent patterns of sin in your life recently?
- Have you viewed any sexually explicit material?
- How are you doing with Sabbath/work rhythms?
- Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
- Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
- Do I confidentially pass onto another what was told me in confidence?
- Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?
- Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
- Did the Bible live in me today?
- Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?
- Am I enjoying prayer?
- When did I last speak to someone about my faith?
- Do I pray about the money I spend?
- Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
- Am I disobeying God in anything?
- Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
- Am I defeated in any part of my life?
- Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
- How do I spend my spare time?
- Am I proud?
- Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican?
- Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it?
- Do I grumble and complain constantly?
- Is Christ real to me?
2) Keep a close watch on your teaching.
You may not be a preacher or a teacher, but as a Christian, right doctrine is essential. Having right doctrine allows us to grow in our love for God and enables us to disciple others (the call of all believers). Our doctrine is developed through regular reading and studying of the Bible. Maybe you can use some help in that area:
This plan is a bit different than others:
- It doesn’t try to complete the entire Bible in a year. Instead, it takes a 3 year approach. This allows you to not feel rushed or overwhelmed in “getting through it,” but take a more manageable pace that allows you to soak in what you’re reading. You will read through the OT once and NT twice in three years.
- It doesn’t “require” you to read every day. You have an assigned portion that you’ll need to read within a week. You can finish it all in one shot or in bite-size pieces. I know that many of us like structure while having some flexibility. This provides both.