Following the Successful
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. 1 Timothy 4:16
As I’ve mentioned previously, I enjoy CrossFit and CrossFit competitions. In such a competition a month ago, I was hanging from a bar, performing racing pull-ups, when my hands slipped off the bar. It’s a little grainy, but the attached photo shows me hanging in midair, a moment before I unceremoniously crashed into the ground. It terrified me, but I wasn’t hurt physically. The fall was embarrassing though, wounding my pride. Afterwards, one of the spectators, whom I recognized to be a legend in the sport, approached me.
Oh no. You didn’t see me fall, did you? He had in fact seen it and the reason he approached me was to give me some advice on how not do it again. Though I felt like an idiot and wanted to hide, I listened to what he had to say. The reason he had the authority to speak into my life, was that he’d been there. He’d done amazing things. I believed he knew what he was talking about because he’s been profoundly successful. I listened because I want to be like him.
This is similar to my faith and recovery journey. When I first attempted recovery, I met those who’d been sober for years. I want what you have. I wasn’t willing to listen though because it sounded like a lot of work. After a few relapses and massive life destruction, I finally listened. Tell me what to do and I’ll do it. I became willing to follow because they’d known success that had eluded me. They’d been transformed and I desperately needed to be transformed. Now, nearly eight years sober, I still meet regularly with my mentor, whom I admire very much. I do so because he’s in a place that I’d like to be one day. He’s been transformed by God in a way that I want to emulate.
In today’s passage, Paul reinforced this concept. He told his protégé, Timothy, to follow the teachings of Christ. In doing so, he said, he would be saved, which in turn would save others. Paul didn’t mean that Timothy himself would save those around him. Only God can save. Paul meant that Timothy’s transformation would inspire those around him to follow Christ as well.
As Christians, our best witness is our own lives. Have we been transformed by Christ in such a way that others want what we have? Do our lives express love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and self-control? Or, do others look at us and want nothing to do with our faith? We don’t save anyone, but when we experience an authentic new life in God, our success will inspire others to follow him too.