“Keep a close watch on yourself”
Paul’s first letter to Timothy is a source of much advice and guidance for us today. Paul gives him much instruction about the problems at Ephesus and how best to deal with them. Most are comparable with the problems we have today.
But having instructed others Timothy must put into “practice these things” himself. “Immerse yourself in them”, says Paul,
“so that all may see your progress” (4:15).
Ponder the significance of the word “immerse”!
Setting an example is vital – otherwise we undermine what we are saying others should do. The chapter concludes,
“Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers”.
This reminds us of the words of James we will read next month,
“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks … and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (1:23-25).
So let us all keep a close watch on ourselves: we and they must not be, Paul told Timothy,
“gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not” (5:13).
There are so many things that encourage people (and us) to do just this today – so we need all the more to – to
“keep a close watch on ourselves”.