Life and Doctrine
1Tim. 4:16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers. (NRSV)
16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (NIV)
In these words to Timothy we hear words which speak to us as well. His ministry was to be a testimony of his faith. There was to be no distinction between what he preached and taught and the way in which he lived his life. His life and doctrine were to be one and the same.
This wasn’t necessarily to be a simply task. There was a perseverance in the task which would require effort. Every day was to be a day of living out his faith and in doing so he himself would be saved. At the same time those who heard his preaching and messages would also be saved, both by his words and his life.
For the preacher of the Gospel there can be no distinction between the words we preach and the lives that we live. If we are to proclaim Christ and a new life in him, then we must be living that life to its fullest.
Never should a preacher be preaching something that he/she does not personally live out in their own lives. Close attention must be paid to doctrine and then the practical living out of that doctrine.
We begin to run into trouble when a preacher no longer knows their own doctrine. A life will be aligned with what it believes and understands and when there is no understanding of doctrine there is nothing with which to be aligned. For those in the holiness tradition we have believed in a doctrine that is powerful and transformative. It is a doctrine that results in a life that desires to be a reflection of Jesus Christ. There are huge ramifications for this in the daily life which include love of God and love of others; issues of justice for the poor and marginalized of this world; self-discipline and introspection regarding our use of resources and an overall desire to be like Christ.
Our life and doctrine must be one and the same. We must pay attention to our teaching and to our living because the cohesion between these breathes life into ministry. The reverse is also true. When there is no alignment between our doctrine and our life those around us will become disillusioned. The ramifications are tragic.
May God help us to live lives of cohesion where the words of our mouths and the lives which we live are an on-going testimony to the work of Christ in our lives.
Lord, please help me this day to be faithful to you in all things. Amen.