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About this series
The Book of 1 Timothy
Life Coaching from the Apostle Paul
If you looked up the word coach in the dictionary, you might see phrases like: “one who teaches, gives instruction, or provides special training.” The question is: who’s coaching you? And who are you coaching? In this 12-part series based in 1st Timothy, Chip dives into one of the most well-known mentor-mentee relationships in the Bible. Through this study, Chip identifies 6 pieces of godly wisdom the Apostle Paul passed on to his protégé Timothy. Don’t miss how we can apply these timeless lessons to our lives, and pass them on to others.More from this series
Last coaching tip, life coaching from the apostle Paul, you ready? Tip number six: Know your opponent well and your own weaknesses better. Know your opponent well – the world system, the enemy – and your own weaknesses better.
Now, I can’t end this time, without telling one more basketball story. I mean, when I went away to play in college, I was a hundred and thirty-five pounds and six feet tall. And I was always undersized, and so, I always observed and I learned and I learned from coaches and I would watch games on TV and who were my heroes and what did they do and why? And how does John Stockton come off of a pick and how does he do a pocket pass?
And I would study, study, study, study because everyone was bigger, everyone was stronger, and everyone could jump higher. Other than that, I was in good shape. And so, I remember starting to learn this in high school, and we were playing, I can still, I mean, not many high school games I can remember, but this kid lit us up.
And we were, I was in Columbus, Ohio area and it was Delaware and we were in this thing called the OCC Conference. And, I mean, he would come down and he had a crossover, and I mean, he would just, he just lit us up, bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!
And I’d come out of the game and I was sitting there and I was figuring out, What do we got to do? And what I found out, I started to watch him, and I watched every did a heel-toe-heel-toe, one-two, every time before he shot. I watched it, I watched it, I watched it. I mean, the kid, you know, this is in the old days. It wasn’t a three-pointer. This guy has got, like, eighteen points and we’re, like, not even into the second half at all. And so, okay, “Chip, get back in there.” I did like the coach says, I’m just watching his bellybutton. And the moment I saw: heel-heel-heel, man I just, I just got up into his grill like that. And it was amazing what happened.
And many years later, we were playing, when I went to seminary, my goal in seminary, the first day was to find anybody over six-ten and recruit them to a team that we had and then we played in this big Texas tournament. And we played against another guy who was, man, he was – in this tournament, he’s going to light everybody up. And we studied him. And I just found that, you know what? He’s kind of the Larry Bird, did you ever figure out how in the world that guy, that is not as quick as other people, knew where they were going to be, got to the right spot at the right time at the right place? See, he knew his opponent well.
But I want to encourage you to know your weaknesses better. In seventh grade I broke this, eighth grade I broke this, ninth grade I broke this. I think either three or four years I broke something on the right side of my body. And being a gym rat, what you do is you take the cast and you play with one hand.
But because of all that, I never had quite the touch. So, you know, I shoot right-handed and what I realized was I needed people to believe that I wanted to go right, but honestly, I was always better left. And then I had one leg that didn’t work so well, so I needed to jump off of this leg instead of that leg, because I had a bunch of knee problems growing up with shots in them.
And so, it was, so, I knew my own weaknesses, so I would always come down right-handed like this, and I would watch these guys do this, like they were taught, “I’m going to make him go left.” And, see, if you know your own weaknesses well, you structure your life in ways where your weaknesses don’t hurt you, but instead you can use your weaknesses to your own advantage.
And don’t miss this. Where the apostle Paul is going to take his son Timothy is: There are a couple things that will take you down, dude. There are a couple things that have taken the very best of people down. And I want to warn you. You need to know your enemy well, but if you read this text very carefully, he’s going to say, “Timothy, you need to know your own weaknesses better. And then you have to structure and protect your life so that those weaknesses don’t come into play.” Does that make sense?
Okay. Then let’s roll. We are in chapter 6, the apostle Paul doing some life coaching. And he says, “All those under the yoke of slavery are to regard their own masters as worthy of honor,” see if you can start getting a theme, “so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against. Those who have believers as their masters must not disrespect them because they are brothers or sisters, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.”
And then he’s going to make a hard turn. He says, “You need to be wise in relationships and I want you to step into them. And if you’ve got an unbelieving master, this is the way you do it. If you’ve got a believing master, this is the way you do it. Now, Timothy, teach and preach these principles…” because at the end of the day, Paul is writing this thinking, If all else fails, the one thing I want him to do is stop the false teachers, because of all the things I have written in this book.
So, now, notice what he says. “Teach and preach these principles. If anyone advocates a different doctrine and doesn’t agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to,” circle this word, “godliness.” That’s the goal of everything.
I want you to live out your life so that you reflect Christ. “…he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a sick craving for controversial questions and disputes about words, from which come envy, and strife, and abusive language, and evil suspicions, and constant friction between people of depraved minds who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.”
And so, basically what he goes through and says, “Some of the evidences of false teaching, it produces arguments and envy and friction.” And has anyone seen any of that in the Church in the last couple years or so?
Did you notice the root cause? Men of depraved minds. It’s thinking. And over time, pretty soon, people’s theology and their values and then you do understand that you are now wired in a world where the enemy, whatever you believe we now have, they have algorithms that will keep feeding you the same stuff so that you’ll get cemented in your views, even the ones that aren’t true and that are baseless and have no fact. And polarize you against other people, because if you want to raise money or if you want to get likes or if you want to get following, what you have to do is have a big, evil opponent that everything they do is wrong.
And the more you scream, scream, scream, “They’re terrible, they’re terrible,” and we need you to…” It raises money and it gets ratings. The only person who knows the truth is God. But our responsibility is we have got to be really discerning. He says, “This is how false teaching occurs.” But all you know is the evidence of false teaching in relationships, he says, “Envy, strife, abusive language.” You see any of that online lately?
And so, he gives them a little correction here. He says, “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accomplished by contentment.” That’s being at peace with what you have. It doesn’t mean that you’re lazy, it doesn’t mean that there’s not direction, ambition, goals, or strategy. But godliness, walking closely with Jesus, and being at peace, content. “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we can take nothing out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.”
Can you imagine what would happen if we actually believed the last line? I’ve got a roof, I have clothes, I have food. With that, now, is it wrong to want a nicer roof? A little bit nicer clothes? And a little bit more food if it’s – no, I don’t think so. But can you say thank you?
I’ve been spending a lot of time with pastors through all of this and one young man called me and he said, “Could we talk?” And he had come to Christ through a Bible study I led about ten years ago. And pretty difficult background and went away to school, became a pastor, and got married and just, you know, things on the right track.
And basically, the conversation went like this, “It’s really hard to be a pastor and I don’t think if I remain a pastor, I’ll ever be able to own my own home. So, I’m thinking about maybe starting a little charter business for fishing, because I really like to fish. And then I could still tell people about Jesus. So, what do you think?”
I said, “Well, I would remind you at least that of the eight billion people in the world, you are in the one-tenth of one percent of knowledge of the Bible, because of your training for four years. That is a stewardship that no one else has. So, if God is calling you out of being a pastor into fishing because you’re more passionate, I would just say make sure it’s a real clear call.” And I know him really well.
And so, working on my gentleness, because my insides were not gentle at all. My insides were like, “Who said it was going to be easy?” I’ve got some promises for you. “Anyone who desires to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
And then I just said, “When you sense God’s calling,” and by the way, it’s real tough to be a pastor, so I really listened compassionately, right now with all the junk going on. But I said, “Do you think that owning a home is, like, do you think God promised us or you deserve to necessarily own a home?” “Well, I mean, everyone else is.” I said, “I know. Is your…”
Do you understand, are you getting it? It’s subtle. It’s so subtle. Is Jesus, yes, I want to follow You no matter what, but unconsciously I have this condition and this condition. Where I went to school I really loved it, it was a really great school. And I remember talking to the admissions guy and it was, I don’t want to exaggerate, so I’ll aim really low, but it’s like a third of all the people that graduate from where I went to school live within, like, fifty or a hundred miles, because they didn’t want to move out of the area. Really?
You spend four or five years going to school, learning the Bible, and then someone asks you and you go, “Oh, I don’t want to go there because it’s cold.” “Because it’s hard.” “Because people aren’t as open.” “Because my mother-in-law doesn’t want me to go there because she doesn’t want her daughter to live more than two hours away.”
And if you wonder why so many Christians are missing the fullness of God and experiencing the power of God, verse 9, “But those who want to get rich,” and put a box around want to in your Bible. There’s nothing wrong with being rich. “Those who want to get rich fall into temptations and a trap,” underline trap, “and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge people into ruin and destruction.” I mean, just underline trap, harmful desires, plunge, ruin, destruction.
I did a study on this earlier and, I mean, one of these words is the word for a fishing lure. And the other word is a word for a trap for an animal. And it’s, both of them are built around – what? Deception. That fish thinks that’s a real minnow. That animal think that food is free.
And notice, he says, “Those who want to get rich.” In other words, that’s, it starts then with harmful desires. I’ve got to have this. I’m not content. And then he gives the reason, “For the love of money,” and then circle, “is a root.” It’s not the root. “…is a root of all kinds or sorts of evil, and some by,” underline “longing for it have,” are you ready? “wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
And then he says, “Timothy, here’s the recommendation.” Contrast, “But flee these things, you man of God, pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and for which you were made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I direct you,” last time it was, “I command you.”
Now, “I direct you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Jesus Christ, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without fault or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time,” speaking of judgment.
Haven’t we kind of heard a charge like this before? This is actually the fifth personal charge. He is concerned that his son in the faith is going to wander, drift, be pierced within, be destroyed, find himself in ruin, bankrupt - and then he goes, “He who is blessed and the only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion forever.” And then almost like an afterthought, because he said, “Okay, Timothy, you understand? Right? Remember my coaching tip, Timothy.” You need to understand your opponent.
I was a pastor ten years when I thought there was God against Satan. That’s not what the Bible teaches. According to Jesus, there are two gods: Me and mammon. Materialism, wealth, money. And Satan uses that to say, “Money will make you secure, money will make you famous, money will give you happiness, money will make you significant.”
You’ve got the logo here, you can talk about, “You know, I had a pretty good time at the Final Four. And, you know, my friend on his G5, we had a pretty good time together. And have I told you lately who I did a selfie with?” And, you know, we all just downsize that to, “I know the superintendent of schools,” or, “I know the football coach,” or, “I know…” Right? Or, you know, “I dated the prom queen.”
But money, money promises it, right? “You know, if I watched enough commercials, if I could just have a red sports car and really white teeth, I mean glowing white teeth, and a Coors Lite, beautiful blondes would jump in that car with me.”
You do understand, no, is that…it’s true, right? Because the commercial says so. Can I just – by the way, I usually mute commercials. Do you know why? Do you understand every, single commercial has only one goal? It starts with discontent. You don’t buy something unless what you have isn’t coming through for you. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t desire or think or plan.
And what he’s saying to Timothy is, boy, there’s a trap, because the other god – money – is always screaming.