“Pay Close Attention”
By: Rev. Sam Harris
|By: Rev. Sam Harris; ©2000|
|1 Timothy 4:16 tells us to “pay close attention….” What are we supposed to pay close attention to, and how do you do it? Rev. Harris explains.|
“Pay Close Attention” (1 Tim. 4:16)
In our Sunday school leadership training class we have been studying and working our way through selected passages in First Timothy. We were on chapter 4:14-16 where Paul writes: “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.”
Our instructor pointed to the importance of “paying close attention to yourself and to your teaching” (16), but time ran out and he never got back to this verse. What is the importance of this verse for us as teachers?
As leaders in the church, we must always be careful how we handle the Word of God. 2 Timothy 2:15 states: “Be diligent to present yourself approved of God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.”
“Paying close attention” is a key to understanding Paul’s admonition to Timothy and to us. My wife “pays close attention” to what I eat, the need to exercise, get enough sleep, etc. In other words, she is concerned about my “physical health.”
God wants us to also be concerned about our “spiritual health,” not only as Christians, but also as leaders in the church. Let me suggest several things to you.
- Watch what you eat. 1 Peter 2:2: “Like new born babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” We want to avoid the kind of mental input that is spiritually harmful. It is important to take in the deeper truths of God Word—to long for the pure milk and the “meat” of the Gospel.
- Take care of your mouth. Ephesians 4:29: “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Oral hygiene is important to avoid dental problems. Likewise, clean speech avoids spiritual decay.
- Check your vision and hearing. Proverbs 4:25: “let your eyes look directly ahead, and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.” Look at only what keeps you on the right path. Romans 10:17: “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Refuse to listen to gossip and evil speaking—listen only to that which is true.
- Control stress. Ephesians 4:26: “Be angry, and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” If you are angry or uptight, take control. Learn to say no and learn to lean on the Lord and to be patient. Read Proverbs 3:5 & 6.
- Check your heart. Proverbs 4:23: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life.” 1 Timothy 1:5: “The goal of our instruction is love and a sincere heart.” We need to make sure that we are doing all that we can to keep our heart “strong” and “pure.”
As Christians and leaders in the church, it is important that we take preventive steps to maintain our spiritual health. On a regular basis, take a “spiritual checkup”—that’s “paying close attention.”