HUGH’S NEWS & VIEWS
“IT’S FOR YOU TOO, HUGH”
All people need a time and a place to think. One such place for me is on my lawnmower cutting the grass and while doing other yard projects on God’s and my little acre.
Actually, it is His acre; He has just allowed me to be the steward (caretaker) of it for a little while. It has been here ever since the third day of Genesis 1. Through the ages its topography has undergone various changes and it has passed through innumerable hands and been occupied by many different people, including North American Indians and a host of others. In fairly recent times (compared to its overall age) it has been carved out of a large piece of farmland and sold off in smaller chunks for people to buy and build houses on, to plant grass and shrubs and flowers on, to live on, to raise their families on, and to take care of. It has been the site of Jan’s and my retirement home for a little over thirteen years now. We love this little plot of ground that we call ours, but we know that one day we will leave it, it will pass into the hands of others, and continue its inexorable march down the corridors of time until the final conflagration of this earth and all things therein (II Peter 3:10-13).
Now to the point of this essay.
A few weeks ago while mowing my grass I was reviewing in my mind my upcoming sermon for the following Sunday. I try to decide early in the week what I am going to preach the following Lord’s Day, then begin getting the scripture text(s) and the points I am going to make in my mind.
This particular sermon dealt with “Spiritual Survival Skills,” something we all need to develop and use. As I went over the sermon in my mind—Pow! All of a sudden it hit me! I needed that particular point myself! The thought came to me, “It’s for you too, Hugh. You need to apply that point to your own life.” Indeed, I did!
The fact is that everything I preach to others I need to preach to myself! All preachers, if they preach the truth of God’s word, need to practice what they preach. Paul the apostle wrote,
“You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say a man should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through the breaking of the law?” (Romans 2:21-23).
To Timothy, a young minister of the gospel, Paul said, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (I Timothy 4:16).
Notice the order of Paul’s admonition: first, take heed to yourself; second, take heed to the doctrine (teaching). Both are essential. The preacher’s life must be in harmony with the doctrine and the doctrine must be the true doctrine of Christ and His apostles as set forth in the New Testament.
Any other doctrine is corrupt teaching and will result in the loss of the souls of those who teach it and the souls of those who believe it and/or practice it. (See I Timothy 6:3-5; II Timothy 4:1-5). (On a few occasions I have said that I would not want to be in the shoes of some preachers on the day of judgment because of the flagrantly false doctrines they have preached and the immoral practices they have endorsed.)
Yet the order of Paul’s admonition to Timothy was for him to first take heed to himself, then to take heed to what he taught. Further, notice the clear implication in Paul’s exhortation to Timothy: if Timothy fails to take heed to himself he may very well save the souls of those who hear him but he will lose his own soul! “Yes, Timothy,” says Paul, “what you preach is for you too!”
“But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified (rejected)” (I Corinthians 9:27). So wrote the great apostle Paul. And so it must be with me . . . and with all who preach and teach the word of God!
September 10, 2013