Tuesday, 9 January 2018
Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 1 Timothy 4:14
Paul – after telling his young protege Timothy to be an example to the believers, and to give attention to reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine – now reminds him to “not neglect the gift that is in you.”
Based on an analysis of the word translated as “gift” here, this is surely not referring to something that was uniquely endowed to him at the time Paul will mention next, but it is the whole body of who he is as a person, recognized as such by those who ordained him. It is referring to his life as created by God, his circumstances, his training as a youth, his growth into an adult, his meeting Paul and being mentored by him, and so on. All of this was recognized as his gift that was found in him. For a very thorough study of this, refer to the commentary on this verse by Albert Barnes.
It is this concept of the whole person that “was given to you by prophecy.” In other words, the elders saw this young man’s qualifications, and they pronounced over him that he was suitable to the task of being an elder, with all that the job entails – and which Paul has been carefully detailing to him once again – and they noted this when they laid their hands on him. The laying of the hands did not impart this gift. Rather, it was an acknowledgment that it existed, and that it would be exactly what was needed for the church to move forward.
This recognition was noted “with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.” This act was a formal pronouncement, and a solemn act which acknowledged the gift in Timothy, and that it was now to be set apart for the glory of the Lord. The laying on of hands is an act, like baptism, which is intended to relay a truth to the world of a certain state of things. One is not saved through baptism, nor do they receive any special gift at the time of baptism. A careful study of the descriptive verses concerning baptism in Acts, and Paul’s prescriptive letters to the church, will clearly show this. The same is true with Timothy’s ordination here.
Having said that, there was certainly a divinely inspired selection of Timothy by Paul. The leading of Paul to Timothy is recorded in Scripture, and the marvelous father/son relationship which grew up between them is carefully noted for us to see and understand that the Lord was behind them coming together. It is a beautiful thing to read and understand, because through such things, we can then look back on our own lives and see how God has woven them together in a similar fashion. What at times may have seemed out of control, is later realized to be perfectly orchestrated by the Lord.
Life application: We are all a product of the many variables which wove our life together. Because of this, we all have a gift which we can use for God’s glory. This should be sought out and fanned into flame so that our particular abilities are properly used and not neglected. This is what Paul is reminding Timothy, and this is what we should pursue in our own lives.
Lord God, You have given each of us unique abilities as gifts of who we are. In Christ, we should use our gifts to Your glory. And so help us not to squander out time and our energy on that which is vain, but instead to fan our gifts into flame and let them be used as is befitting of the people of God that we are because of Christ. May it be so, and to Your glory! Amen.