Neglecting What He Gives You

Start thinking and praying about your personal responsibility to develop the abilities God has given you?

Scripture: 1 Timothy 4:16


Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? You’re doing all right today? Well, sure, I wait for you to answer. [chuckle] Although sometimes, when you’ve struck a rough day, you’d just as soon not have anybody ask you how you are. One lady wrote me and she said, “When you ask how in the world are you? Sometimes I just say, ‘Yuck!'” [chuckle] Well, some days are that way, I know. See, God knows that your circumstances vary. Sometimes you’re afraid. The Bible says “What time I am afraid I will trust in Thee.” Sometimes you feel as though God has forgotten you and the Bible quotes some of the old-timers as saying, “Has the Lord forgotten to be gracious? Will He cast us off forever?”

Your feelings vary, don’t they? But God is always the same, He’s always there. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Hallelujah. Trust your blessed Lord today no matter how you feel or no matter what the circumstances may be. And if you’re in a rough spot, consider it an opportunity for God to work. I learned that concept from my friend, Harold Hill, who long ago learned to say when he was in some kind of a testing situation, “Lord, this is your chance to work.” [chuckle] Look Heavenward and trust God to make order out of the chaos and victory out of what seems to be a defeat and perfect peace out of what would ordinarily upset you. It’s a chance for God to work. Well, somebody needed that and whoever you are, God bless you. Keep on trusting your Lord.

We’re looking at 1 Timothy 4, we’ve come to the last verse in that chapter, “Take heed unto thyself and unto the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.” If you take that last phrase and work backward through the chapter, it makes a lot of sense. What is the ultimate goal of the Christian worker?

Number one, to be sure that he or she is definitely right with God, save thyself. Number two, to be sure that everyone who touches your life is brought closer to Christ-them that hear thee. That’s the ultimate goal. And you’ll find then that specialization in the Word of God, putting everything in the context of the Word of God and prayer, verse 5, and exercising yourself to Godliness, being an example and so on, all of these different things add up.

Now, that comes under the heading then of this phrase, “Take heed unto thyself.” I went back through the chapter today as I was looking at this passage preparing to speak with you for a little while, and the word ‘thyself’ or a personal reference that is its equivalent shows up often in the chapter. For instance, he says, “Exercise thyself unto Godliness.” Work at being Godly. The personal element, the personal responsibility element in Christian life and service. You are responsible for some things. Now, you can’t change some conditions. If you’re a pastor in an area that is downcast and changing, you can’t change that particularly, but you can work at the kind of a person you are. If you’re the only Christian in a heathen family and they’re constantly picking on you, you can’t change that, you can’t adopt a different family. But you can change the kind of person you are in the family. You understand me?

So he said, “Exercise thyself rather unto Godliness.” Work at the quality of God in your life. Work at including God in the ordinaries of life. Godliness is the presence and power and quality of God in the ordinaries of life. Godliness is not equivalent with piety, you’re pious when you’re in church. Hopefully you’re Godly as well, but in church, for instance, in a structured religious meeting, you’re supposed to sit down, be quiet, look religious and behave yourself generally. That’s a structured situation. Piety is the act of appearing religious. Godliness is the quality, the presence, the power, the attributes of God in ordinary everyday living: at the sink, in the cellar, with the storm windows, in the garage, at the desk, in the office, on the street, in the classroom. God in your life.

Now, that is part of the personal responsibility. No one will do that for you, beloved. You don’t drift into Godliness. You cannot just simply say, “It’ll take care of itself.” No, it won’t. The tendency, as my old boss, Vic Cory, used to say, “The tendency of the fire is to go out.” And you won’t drift into Godliness- it has to be something that is a personal effort on your part of constant commitment to your Lord and constantly looking in His direction for guidance. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.” You do the acknowledging, He does the directing. Work at being Godly. Exercise thyself. There’s the first one, personal responsibility to be Godly.

Personal responsibility to be an example. “Be thou an example,” verse 12, “Of the believers in what you say, and how you live in Calvary love, in the influence of your life, in the quality of believing God, and in holy living.” You be an example. Personal responsibility. First of all, to be Godly; second, to be an example.

There is never a time when you can say it doesn’t matter now. It always matters. You are always on. “We’re made,” says Paul, “A spectacle to angels, to demons, and to people.” And that word spectacle is a picture word, meaning a gladiator in the colosseum with all the crowd looking on. He said, “We’re like players in a big colosseum and the crowd is looking on. We’re made a spectacle to angels, to demons, and to people.” God is watching. There’s never a time when you can say it doesn’t matter now. It always matters. You’re always on.

So he says, “You be an example. You be a living proof, a walking demonstration of what the Lord Jesus Christ can do in these key areas of life.” What are they? What you say, how you live, lifestyle. That word ‘conversation’ actually means lifestyle, how you live. Calvary love, the word ‘charity’ is agape. Calvary love. Spirit, that’s your influence. The spirit of a person that telegraphs your feelings to other people, your influence. Faith, that’s the quality of believing God, risking the situation on God. Purity, that’s the quality of living a holy life. “You be an example,” said he. Work at that. Take heed to your example.

First of all, take heed to Godliness, the quality of God in your life and the ordinaries of life. Second, take heed to your example. Now, he says, another personal responsibility, he says, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee.” We talked about that recently, didn’t we? You have some gifts that God has given to you in a special way. What are they? Find them out and use them for His glory. Neglect not. My father used to say solemnly to me, “Use or lose. My boy, use it or lose it.” And he gave the illustration of the person whose arm was tied up for a period of weeks and who lost the use of it.

Well, that’s still true for all of us today. Neglect not the gift that is in thee. You have possibilities, my beloved friend, that you’ve never yet dreamed of. God can do through your life things that you never dreamed of.

Why don’t you start thinking and praying about your personal responsibility to develop the abilities God has given you? Would you? Grandma Moses didn’t begin to paint until she was quite an old lady; famous paintings, however. Other people that you might think of have started late in life to do some things. I spoke with a friend of mine whom I had known as a very brusque and almost abrasive individual, say, 40 years ago. And I spoke with him after the years had gone by, found him mellow, and flexible, and sweet-tempered, and I said, “You know, there’s a difference in you.” And he laughed, he said, “Yes, you notice the difference, don’t you, Bob?” “Well,” he said, “It’s the Word of God. I recently started in this.” He would be in his 60s then. He said, “I recently started memorizing the Word of God.” And he said, “I’ve memorized all of Ephesians and Philippians, I’m memorizing parts of Isaiah and some of the Psalms. Oh,” he says, “It’s great!”

Now, here was a man who was a success in business but whose personality left something to be desired in interpersonal relationships. And he started memorizing. He found that he had the ability to memorize the Word of God, and so indeed do we all for that matter. The gift, you’re personally responsible to develop the person you are. Now, God has determined the person that you are. The scientist says it’s an accident at birth, the way the genes and chromosomes are arranged, it’s an accident at birth. Well, you and I who are Christians know that there aren’t any accidents with God, and God who doeth all things well has determined the kind of person you are.

That’s pretty hard to take if you’ve been born with some handicap, or impediment, or deformity. I know that. I have a healthy body and have been that way for a good many years, and people look at me and say, “That’s all right for you to talk like that, Cook, that God does all things well. Look at me.” I know. I know it’s hard to take. But here’s part of what faith can do. You believe that God is still God and that He does all things well, and that He does what He does for a reason, and you accept that. In other words, you accept the kind of person you are. And then you say, “Now, God, let me develop the gifts you’ve given me.” Let me develop the gifts that you’ve given me. Oh, I can’t be specific about this because I don’t know your handicaps. I only know mine, I got lots of them. I only know that God can take the kind of person you are and create a blessed, wonderful day-by-day miracle of His grace if you’ll simply obey this verse that says, “Don’t neglect the gift that is in thee.”

God has given you some abilities, whatever they are, as well as your limitations. Accept what you are, start developing it for God’s glory. Good idea? That is something for which you and I are personally responsible.

Then there’s another occasion where you find the word ‘thyself.’ Meditate upon these things, give thyself wholly, W-H-O-L-L-Y, entirely, wholly to them. You are responsible for the degree of commitment that there is in your life. How much commitment? How far, in other words, are you prepared to go with God? That’s your responsibility. We’ll get at that the next time we get together.

Dear Father today, help us to take our responsibilities seriously. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, Walk with the King today, and be a blessing!

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