"Pay Close Attention to Yourself"
The aged Apostle Paul wrote to the young preacher Timothy, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching” (1 Timothy 4:16). In view of the emphasis the New Testament places on truth, it is no surprise that a preacher is advised to be careful about what he preaches. Our text makes it clear that how he lives is just as important.
Paying attention to yourself does not mean making yourself the center of everything! Some people, including some preachers, act as though it does. Quite the opposite, it means being careful about making a personal application of God’s word.
Consider a few areas Paul identified in 1 Timothy to which this young preacher needed to pay attention.
His fight. “Fight the good fight” (1:18). Fighting for right and truth requires a consistent, diligent effort, guarding against developing ungodly attitudes such as self-righteousness, arrogance, fault-finding, etc.
His discipline. “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (4:7). That discipline relates in part to the sources of what he preached (vv. 6, 7a). It also relates to priorities, time management, and good word habits necessary to proper study and lesson preparation.
His example. “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (4:12).
His interactions. “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity” (5:1-2). All are important. Notice Paul’s special caution about how we interact with members of the opposite gender who are somewhat our own age.
His fairness. Amidst a passage about dealing with brethren who sin and appointing church leaders, Paul urged Timothy to “maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality” (5:19). No playing favorites.
His finances. No, not in the sense that many do. Preachers then and now often make too much of that (6:3-9). Paul’s warning against the love of money in 6:10 is one of the best-known verses in this letter. The next verse adds, “But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.”
1 Timothy 4:16 concludes: “Persevere in these things, for as long as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” Timothy’s salvation depended on paying close attention to himself. So does mine. So does yours.