A local millionaire is leaving on a round-the-world yacht race and he’s looking for trustees to manage his estate for a year while he’s sailing the seven seas. “Trustees Wanted” says the headline of his advertisement in the local newspaper. Read some of the smaller print and you’ll discover he’s simply looking for trustworthy people to look after his property and valuables and hand them back to him in a year in the same condition as they received them.
Seems simple enough, but he goes on to explain that it will require a significant commitment of time, of thought, of feet, and of hands. Based upon his past experience, it will require perseverance in the face of difficulty and courage in the face of threats. It will be a heavy responsibility, it will involve many hours, it will produce many stresses, and there will be a thorough review and accountability process in a year. Oh, and the job pays nothing.
Do you think he’d get many takers? Do you think many or any would volunteer as trustees? Well, it’s such trustees that the Apostle Paul is looking for in the last verses of 1 Timothy.
O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith (1 Timothy 6:20-21)
A Treasure to Value
What, though, is the deposit Paul is referring to? He’s just been speaking about stewarding financial treasure (vv. 6-10, 17-19). But this deposit is something much more valuable: it’s all the treasure of teaching that Paul has communicated to Timothy in the course of this letter’s six chapters, including teaching about:
- Christ’s doctrine (1 Tim. 1:3-4)
- Christ’s law (1 Tim. 1:5-10)
- Christ’s Gospel (1 Tim. 1:11, 15; 2:3-7)
- Christ’s government (1 Timothy 2v1-3)
- Christ’s church (1 Tim. 2:8-15; 3:14-15)
- Christ’s officebearers (1 Tim. 3:1-13; 5:17-25)
- Christ’s person (1 Tim. 3:16)
- Christ’s world (1 Tim. 4:1-5)
- Christ’s ministers (1 Tim. 4:6-12)
- Christ’s compassion (1 Tim. 5:1-16)
- Christ’s ordering of society (1 Tim. 6:1-10)
- Christ’s judgment (1 Tim. 6:11-16)
Each of these truths is an awesome treasure. All of them together are immeasurable and unsearchable riches. This is a massive deposit to take care of, a huge trust to be invested with. What then is a trustee to do with this treasure?
A Trustee to Guard
God’s Gospel trustees are given this treasure. They do not earn it, invent it, or create it themselves. It’s something God entrusts to them, and deposits with them. As they receive it, they recognize its enormous value, worth, and importance
God’s Gospel trustees guard this treasure. They watch out for attacks from inside and outside the church and defend it accordingly. The two threats Paul explicitly defends here, as samples of other threats, are God-less chatter and God-opposing error. The first may be religious talk, church talk, but it’s God-less talk. God is absent from it. The second is literally “antithesis,” meaning anything that explicitly contradicts and opposes God and his truth. Sadly, Paul tells us that some past trustees have succumbed to these threats and have ended up diverted from the faith
God’s Gospel trustees give on this treasure. That is all. They were given it; they simply give it on to others. They do not need to add to it, improve it, or enhance it. They don’t add a doctrine, remove a doctrine, change a doctrine, or hide a doctrine. What they were given, they give on.
A Training to Equip
God is looking for more Gospel trustees, for those who will do this reliably and courageously. He’s looking for knowledgeable, discerning, trustworthy men and women. He said, “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you.” but you can substitute your own name and challenge yourself as to this great calling in life.
What a call! What a challenge! Thankfully, though, God has hinted at the training course that can equip us for this. “Grace be with you,” he concludes. Grace was needed at the beginning (1 Timothy 1:2), and grace is needed at the end (6:21). None of us can do this in our own strength. Neither can we do this alone. “Grace to you” is addressed to a plurality of people. Teamwork is needed.
What a calling! What an honor! What a responsibility to our generation, to our children, and to our children’s children. Look at what you have received! What are you handing on?
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