I’m certain most people would like to be spoken well of. There is a problem that could arise when spoken well of, and it is pride. Throughout my life and ministry I have given and received compliments. I have been spoken well of and badly of. Before God, all these things might be meaningless and useless unless praise and perhaps insult are converted into giving glory to God. For the person, being spoken well of could, as said, lead to pride and pride is a curse. It was the first sin in the Garden of Eden … to be like God … pride! To be spoken well of to your face that leads to anything other than you diverting the compliment to God is sin. Pride boosts your ego. It causes you to think more highly of yourself than you ought. In dealing with the glamour of spiritual gifting, Paul says to the Church at Rome … and to us:
Ro 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
Today we note that Timothy was spoken well of:
Ac 16:1 He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. 2 The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.
(1) Good reputation. There is a difference when people speak well of you to others and when they speak well of you to you. The latter could have a negative effect on you as illustrated above. Yet when people talk well of you to others, it means they have seen something or somethings in you that are valuable and worthy of appreciation. Timothy was spoken well of. As a young Christian man, he was eager to serve the Lord and this sterling attribute was seen and identified by the Church in both cities of Lystra and Iconium. We too need to be speaking well of, recommending and praising God for all people who serve well, but especially those who are younger. The caution is though, when we speak directly to them, we need to speak in such a way that their ego’s don’t become inflated. They need to know we appreciate their service to God, who alone and always receives the glory.
(2) Needed by Paul as an assistant. You can picture Paul, having lost Barnabas needing help on his second missionary journey. Silas was a great replacement but Paul had not worked with him in the mission field and he himself had not ventured further than Antioch in Syria. He came from Jerusalem. Timothy however would be a great asset because he was half Jew and half Greek (Gentile). He would be able to minister to both groups of people. Be it in missions or in the local Church we need to be on the lookout for young men (and women for women’s ministries) who have proven themselves in the local Church and are recognized as worthy servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we see such people we need to, prayerfully encourage them to consider going to college to prepare for a life of service in Christian ministry of some sort.
(3) Timothy’s circumcision. This might come as a surprise considering Paul and Barnabas had debated against Gentiles needing to be circumcised to become Christian at the Assembly in Jerusalem … and having a letter explaining the only requirements needed. His reason was … he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. Paul’s logic was … by Jewish law, Timothy was a Jew because his mother was a Jew. But from a technical point, because he was not circumcised he was an apostate Jew. This would cause rejection from the Jews. He wanted to win Jews and Gentiles for Jesus. He put it like this about himself:
1Co 9:19 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
It was not going against the ruling pronounced by the Court of Apostles and Elders. It was not introducing an alternative salvific doctrine. Not at all! It was to have his leadership team above reproach from anyone so that as many as possible might be saved! Let me put it like this for us today … if wearing shorts and sandals to Church or if not wearing a tie to Church is offensive to the Church I visit, I will wear the appropriate clothing. As a pastor I do not drink alcohol, not because it is a sin but because I do not want to offend someone. The “weaker brother” … or “quick to criticize” person needs to be kept in mind, not for our sake, but for his possible conversion’s sake.
(4) Delivering the decision of the Court of Apostles and Elders.
Ac 16:4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey.
This was a wise decision so that no one could come from the Party of Pharisees requiring a different doctrine. Beloved this is why we have a Bible … In reading Church History about certain Churches that come from the same original Church Plant, it is interesting that although they have the same doctrinal statement of faith, they have different practices. The doctrinal statement is totally Scriptural yet one group supports homosexuals and same sex marriage whilst another group supports the belief that you can lose your salvation, whilst still another group supports female elders and female ordination. This is staggering when the Bible speaks against all these things. Our belief and practice must be that of Scripture. Failure here and we become a Church under wrath. (See Revelations 2-3).
(5) Churches strengthened in faith. All Churches need strengthening in faith and in the Faith. More and more our people need to be totally devoted to our Lord and His purposes. When we are we may expect …
(6) Daily numerical increase. Did you see this? Before numerical increase there must be strengthening in faith! How will a Church be able to minister to new converts and how will they be able to channel mature Christian into ministries unless they themselves are strengthened in faith. I have written a document with twelve points on a wheel diagram about the individual’s requirements to pray for and believe God for spiritual revival in the local Church and further afield. How can I put it out to others until I have proven it works in my life? That is strengthening faith before numerical growth comes. This is why Luke records the one before the others.
Our Father, graciously raise up young men and women for ministry. You have told us the harvest is ready, we must ask for workers. At the same time Lord, our local Church needs to be strengthened in faith and in the Faith to be able to accommodate what is reaped from the vineyard. Help us, precious Lord, in these two areas. Amen.