By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Throughout Scripture, there is several common themes that continue to reappear. One of them is the need to be obedient to God in spirit and in truth.
I Timothy 4:11-16 (ESV): Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 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.
You can see from the passage, the apostle Paul is telling Timothy what he needs to do to progress in the faith. On the truth side, there is the need to read and understand scripture. As you grow in understanding, you need to teach. On the spirit side, you need to conduct yourself with love and purity. Growth cannot occur unless you are working on spirit and truth. It is not enough to understand scripture if you do not care about living the values they portray. It is also true it is not enough to love others, if you are not interested making sure your advice is scriptural. There is the need to be consistent in word and deed.
Matthew 18:3-4 (ESV): And said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
As God's children, our goal is to please Him. Even though we may have the best intentions, it is not our place to set the standard. We have to be humble enough to accept the fact we do not always have the best ideas. Choosing to focus on spirit is to devalue the need to understand scripture. On the other hand, choosing to focus on truth is to devalue the need to do all things in love and purity. There is a balance Christians need if they want to be effective when encouraging and bringing others to the faith. It is God's desire for all to be saved and to come to repentance. As Christians, it is our mission to bring His desire to fruition; and the only way to accomplish our goal is to live as the Father commands.