Bible Study faith

1 Timothy: Respect

One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend.

A few years ago, I sat in a Sunday School classroom, with my husband and our pastor and prayed for God to help me to respond kindly. The pastor was a Christian man, and I had known him a long time. Over the course of several weeks, he had questioned my capabilities, misrepresented my motives, and asked me to stop or change the ministry that I loved.

I’d taken over VBS 5 years before and was led to write our own curriculum, instead of using the box sets. It was how I felt God wanted me to do it. It was my passion, my ministry.

Except now, this new pastor was a tearing me apart. For some crazy reason, he just didn’t like anything we where doing, and I might lose my ministry because of it. It was my ministry, but it was also my heart, my calling. I’d spent all year long working, writing and creating what God led me to do and loved every moment.

I didn’t know what to do, so I went home and prayed. I placed my open Bible in front of me and asked God to help me. I needed His direction. I didn’t know where to turn, so I turned to my Master first.

It was the 22nd day of the month, so I read through Proverbs 22 and prayed over each verse. When I got to verse 11, I heard the clear voice of the Holy Spirit give me my marching orders:

Proverbs 22:11 New International Version (NIV)

11 One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace
    will have the king for a friend.

Really, Lord? I understood exactly what God was asking me to do, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to be gracious and loving to a man who had just told me I was not qualified to write VBS. I spent a few minutes crying out for God’s strength, praying for God’s blessing over him, and asking God to help me to serve with joy in the midst of a very uncomfortable situation.

1 Timothy 6:1-2 New International Version (NIV)

6 All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves. These are the things you are to teach and insist on.

In I Timothy 6, Paul is encouraging Timothy to counsel the church body to choose wisely. We can never control the response of those whose authority we are placed under, but we can choose to respectfully honor them in the name of Christ by showing up to serve faithfully. 

Rather than shrink back and grow disillusioned, we are called to step forward and get diligent. We win the war by washing the feet of the very one who is opposing us. 

Whenever I am tempted to start complaining about how someone is treating me, I remember that Jesus picked up a towel and basin and kneeled before Judas to serve. He set the example for all of us to follow. We are called to represent Christ by redoubling our efforts to serve even when we aren’t rewarded.

I don’t know where you are standing today, friend. Perhaps you have a difficult boss or a negative neighbor. Maybe you are accused of something you did not do, or you are giving your all in a place where no one recognizes your hard work. I want you to know that God sees you striving to obey His voice, and He is pleased by your sacrifice.

And by the way, I kept that ministry, and God quickly opened doors to do more. Eventually, the pastor told me recognized my faithful efforts, and I found favor in his eyes.