“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
When our kids were little, they engaged in a lot of pretend play, acting out silly stories and creating colorful characters out of the sheer power of imagination. Animals, superheroes, and the like were constantly traipsing through our family room. One day, our daughter slipped into the role of playing a mom while her brother was the dad. She grabbed a toy purse and a notebook and loudly declared to her “husband,” “I’m off to another meeting!” In that moment, I saw myself through her eyes, always rushing off to church meetings, PTA meetings, work meetings, etc. Without any direct instruction, she had distilled down my whole mom identity to an action she had seen me perform over and over again. As I watched her at play, I began to fervently pray that she had watched me live out moments beyond going to meetings. I also began to realize that if she hadn’t, then perhaps it was because I needed to live out my life differently.
Throughout our lifetimes, we learn by watching others. We often look to what other people’s life stories are telling us about them. How we live is a bold and loud proclamation to those around us about our values, our focus, and even our passions. Friends who frequent certain sporting events, people who post on social media about their favorite comic books, strangers whose crazy bumpers stickers we read while in traffic - these all are moments that identify others to us and tell a part of their stories to those who are watching. What are we conveying to others around us? And how much of those stories we are telling are centered on our faith?
In his letter to Timothy, Paul clearly knew that the story of our lives and our identity is embedded in how we live. His words to Timothy are a direct reminder to remain faithful and constant in living as a Christ follower. Paul knew that many needed to hear the news of the gospel. But he wanted to be sure that the gospel story didn’t merely change hearts, but it changed the way people lived out their lives. Paul himself was a radical example of how powerful Jesus’ love is when it comes to changing how life is lived. And he poured that into Timothy, ensuring that Timothy focused on being an example for others.
This Sunday, I have the privilege of giving a sermon on living our lives to leave a mark on those that come after us. Join us as I share more thoughts on “Living Your Legacy” and how God calls us to pour into others as Paul did for Timothy. See you in church!