Soul Custody (Stewardship of God’s truth and blessings)
– Question: What will be your most important possession during the zombie apocalypse?(Gold/Food)
– Our perspective of what has value depends greatly on our cultural context.
– Example: (more contemporary) American visiting rural china wrote article: “People were generally quick to comment about how much poorer and harder life there is than in the cities, but in many ways, their lives were pretty good. The air was clear, the water was good, and we had a constant supply of locally grown vegetables, fruits, and eggs. The local tofu was amazing at sunrise, freshly made and still warm with just a simple spicy vinegar sauce. The local beer was good, too. They didn’t eat so much meat–mostly pig liver and pig ears, and scrawny chickens. The generally only eat what they grow themselves. I ended up hiring a cook, as just going to market to buy food would have taken me a huge amount of time.”
– His perspective of their “quality of life” revolves around his selfish needs, w/o respect to the fact that they have to sustain life there. (They have it “good” because of all the good food…)
– The rural Chinese have slim access to modern healthcare, no retirement, no indoor plumbing or central heat, etc… things the writer apparently just takes for granted. Maybe that’s why the rural Chinese weren’t bragging about how good the food was.
– 800 million people live in rural China. What value does an Iphone have if there is no wireless network? What value is a Lamborghini in a land with no improved roads?
– What should matter in context to our Christian culture is the truth of the gospel, and the value it brings us. Have we placed too much value on the things that we shouldn’t?
– The details of our Christian life can be almost meaningless without that firm foundation.
– But, as we see in 1st Timothy, some Christians have become distracted by things that are not central to the message of Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 1:3-7, 3 When I left for Macedonia, I urged you to stay there in Ephesus and stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. 4 Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.5 The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. 6 But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions. 7 They want to be known as teachers of the Law of Moses, but they don’t know what they are talking about, even though they speak so confidently.
– You have been given “soul custody”!
– Custodian: “Someone who keeps and protects something valuable for another person.”
– God has made you the custodian over the things that are valuable to Him. Things that affect our very souls! (His story, His word, and His blessings)
- Be a custodian of the truth.
– Paul is writing Timothy this letter because the church in Ephesus is dealing with some misinformation, not much different than we are today in the modern church.
– Paul calls them, “false teachers, teaching contrary to the truth”. These are teachers inside the “church”, not outside. (Not pagans teaching pagan ways. Paul wouldn’t care about that.)
– Paul describes false teachers as focusing on and debating over “myths and genealogies” which at best are a distraction, but at worst are just not true.
– Today’s example might be like, “We are all children of God… This is the way God made me, why would he ask me to change?… Jesus came to hang out with sinners and love people…”
– An incomplete truth is the same as a lie, and will mislead people.
– Verse 7 describes false teachers as, “speaking confidently… but don’t know what they are talking about.”
– Example: Timothy McVeigh meme, “white, Christian terrorist”. Terrorist? YES! Christian? NO. Went to Catholic church as a child. As an adult described himself as “never really picked it up… science is his religion”, then as an agnostic. Terrorist motives were anti-government, NOT religious. (Share 10,000 times, but a total misrepresentation!)
– The purpose of the meme is to marginalize and discredit Christianity. (To place doubt!)
– When actual truth pointed out, the poster replied, “Well… Still…”. Still What?!
– “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” -Attrib. to Hitler.
– The church must be the truth source!
– 1 Timothy 3:15, 15 so that if I am delayed, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.
– Paul is saying that he cannot be the only one safeguarding and preserving the truth.
– Every Christian must be a custodian of the truth, for the sake of the hearer’s soul.
– Verse 4, “These things [meaningless speculations] don’t help people live a life of faith in God”.
– “Life of faith”, literally translated here is, “Stewardship of God, in faith”.
– Stewardship/management/caretaker/custodian: Responsible and reasonable care for someone else’s valuables, as if they were your own.
– Are you being a good steward of God’s church, His word, His blessings, your freedom through Him…?
– Verse 5, “The purpose of [Paul’s] instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a genuine faith.”
– The power of the gospel is to create these 3 things in you! (You must know it!)
- Know his word. Speak his word. Be his word.
– This is how you will become the good steward you are called to be!
– Know his word:
– The Bible is the antidote to cure false teaching.
– Example: Snake bite, you can’t control the snake, but you can stay far away from it, and if by accident you still are bitten, you just need a dose of the anti-venom, and you will be fine.
– 2 Timothy 3:16, All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
– The problem is that the modern day Christian is not reading their bible. Someone told them that Christianity boils down to grace, love God, and love people. So they went off attempting to do this in terms of their own understanding.
– Their faith has been built on memes and sound bites, and scriptures quoted out of context.
– Without the word, they cannot know what this is supposed to look like.
– How can you live under grace if you don’t know the character of the grace giver? How can you love God if you don’t even know the definition of godly love? How can you love people without loving God first?
– You must know his word in order to recognize what is false.
– Speak his word:
– Proverbs 18:21, The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.
– Speak life and reap the consequences: Better relationships, positive outlook, etc…
– Speak death and create division, ruin trust, build fear in others, etc…
– Example: Think of what articles you are sharing on Facebook. Do they create fear or faith in your readers? Are they even accurate, or just speculation and sensationalism?
– People are very quick to believe a false report. If “fault” can be found in a person or an ideal, then people are free from the responsibility to respond to the truth.
– Exactly why that McVeigh meme is damaging, or the televangelist who has an affair, or the megachurch pastor who is lining his pockets with the tithe. (It distorts the truth.)
– St. Augustine is attributed as saying, “The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself.” (Catchy phrase, but I don’t think that is exactly true.)
– A lion is very vulnerable (to humans), and without our intervention, would be wiped off the face of the earth. The truth, just like a lion, must be defended!
– You must know his word in order to speak his word.
– Be his word:
– 1 Peter 2:12, Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.
– Your actions and lifestyle testify to the truth of what you believe. Actions speak louder than words! (Struggling with sin vs Lifestyle of sin, we all struggle just don’t give in.)
* People with forgive an authentic failure, but crucify the false champion.
– Example: Vanilla Ice, 1990 “Ice Ice Baby” was huge, Vanilla broke the mold, multi-millionaire still to this day, pushed rap into the mainstream, with one MAJOR failure…
Robert Matthew Van Winkle, successful rapper and dancer from middle-class Texas, was talked into adopting a more commercial persona by his record company; Thug from Miami.
– Don’t “act like” a Christian, humbly be who you are in Christ, a “work in progress”.
– James 1:22, But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.
– Titus 2:7, And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.
– As a custodian of the truth, you hold the keys to the Kingdom. You can unlock all truth through a relationship with God and His word.
- Be a custodian of your blessings.
– 1 Timothy 6:17-19, 17 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. 19 By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.
– You may not believe this but you are richer than you think. In fact, the poorest Americans are richer than 80% of the world’s population. (Stop and think about that for a second.)
– Here are some rough numbers:
– 80% of the global population lives on less than $10 a day (about 5 billion people, $300 a month, $3600 a year)
– Average US income is around 50k, with 15% below the poverty level at 23K or less.
– 5% of Americans earn less than $2 a day, BEFORE adding government benefits.
– 35% of Americans receive welfare benefits (not including social security, Medicare, unemployment, or veterans benefits. That would bring it to near 50% of Americans.)
– Less than 1% of Americans are truly poor financially, using global standards.
– I’m not at all trying to minimize the struggle, and I recognize that it is very expensive to live here.
– Just creating perspective: Everyone in America is “rich in this world”.
– This is a call to us as the “rich” to be good stewards of what God has blessed us with.
– We, as a culture, put too much faith in our money and government programs.
– Advertising and entertainment has set a high bar that most of us struggle to live up to, but the bible tells us:
– “God richly gives us all we need.” & “Use your money for good, and be generous.”
– Why? “So that you may experience true life.”
– Do you believe that today? Is your live testifying that you believe it?
– We need to focus on being rich in good works. (Not in money.)
– James 2:26, Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works. (Good works is the evidence of a live of faith.)
– 2 Peter 1:3, By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
– Philippians 4:19, And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
– Through your faith in Jesus Christ, you have all you NEED. Manage it well.
* You are not a victim, you are the chosen!
– You have been given soul custody!
– God has made you the custodian over the things that are valuable to Him, and affect our very souls! (His story, His word, and His blessings)
– You have the keys to the Kingdom, and access to the truth source.
– Manage the responsibility well, and for God’s glory.
– If you have believed the lie of the false teacher, repent and turn back to Jesus today!