A Prayer to Watch How We Live
By Laura Bailey
“Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.” – 1 Timothy 4:16, NLT
Have you ever heard the saying, “Do as I say, not as I do?” I always struggled to follow the suggestion, advice, or perhaps even command of a teacher or leader with that mindset. Those in authority shouldn’t only talk the talk; they have the high responsibility and honor of walking the walk.
In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he provides these words of wisdom: “Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:16).” In the letter, Paul offered numerous warnings about false teachers, gave Timothy instructions on dealing with people in the church, and provided general advice. But, here we see that Paul called Timothy to hold himself to a standard of godliness, that no matter what is going around him, Timothy must pay close attention to how he lived out his faith. Why was this important then, and why is the way we live so important now? Because Timothy was responsible for teaching and leading the church, his actions could quickly draw or deter people from Christ.
How we live matters.
As Christians and representatives of Jesus Christ, we are responsible for taking stock of our actions and heart motivations. Especially those of us who teach the Scriptures, lead, pastor, disciple, or mentor other believers. While only God can offer the free gift of salvation, how we live can influence others to draw closer or turn away from the gospel.
There will undoubtedly be times that we falter, make mistakes, and choose the things of this world over God; Paul does not imply we lead perfect lives. Instead, Paul is encouraging Timothy, as well as us today, to “take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5), to “live not as the unwise but wise” (Ephesians 5:15-17) and “live a life worthy of the Gospel” (Philippians 1:27-30) And when we fall short, may we quickly confess our sins privately and perhaps publicly, when necessary, seeking forgiveness and redemption.
As God’s chosen people, we are called to bring Him glory in all we say and do. Instead of saying do as I say, not as I do, may we be people who say what Paul said, “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). May we live in such a way that people can’t help to ask about the Lord? Let our lives be living sacrifices to the Lord (Romans 12:1), choosing to think more about others than ourselves, giving God alone the glory.
Let us pray:
Heavenly Father, words can never express our deep gratitude that “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, (Romans 5:8).
We are so undeserving of your grace and mercy, not just for salvation, but every day. Lord, we ask that you soften our hearts to think more of others than we do ourselves. Oh, how difficult it is sometimes to lay down our selfish desires, to sacrifice for others, and forgo certain things, but we ask that we do whatever it takes to draw people closer to You.
Help us be the salt of the earth, light in the dark places. Convict us when our actions and words of our mouths don’t match our faith. For those who teach, strengthen them, and guide them to share the Scriptures with spirit and truth, Lord. Abba, Father, we plead with you to open the hearts of friends, family members, children, and all those who don’t know you as Lord and Savior. We desire that none should perish, but all would come to you. Guide our conversations, and lead us in our work and everyday lives.
We love you, Lord, and desire to be your workmanship, to share the Good News, by living in a way that points to Christ. You alone are worthy of worship and glory; forgive us when we put other things ahead of You and Your will.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes
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