'O Man of God'

1 Tim. 6:11.---'But thou, O man of God.'

2 Tim. 3:17.---'That the man of God may be perfect.'

One of the most interesting and rewarding of New Testament studies is that of the titles, either assumed by the followers of Christ, or conferred upon them by others. For each suggests some characteristic, either of their life as seen by others, or of their purpose and aim as cherished by themselves. For instance, they were known among themselves as disciples, because they were fellow-learners in Christ's school. They were known also as brethren, because of the law of love which bound them in mutual recognition and consideration. They were known, too, as saints, because their common aim was a life of holiness, in correspondence with the life of Him whose name they bore, and in whose steps they sought to follow. Their opponents at Antioch on one occasion nicknamed them Christians, because they were so evidently followers of Christ. It is, in passing, of interest to note that they were not called Jesuits, followers of Jesus. It was evident to their critics that it was not the human Jesus to whom they were devoted. They recognized that those early disciples were devoted to Christ the Anointed Messiah, Christ the Divine Son of God, so attested, as they affirmed, by His resurrection from the dead. They were hence dubbed 'Christians,' which of all distinguishing titles persists.

But none of the many titles ascribed to believers or assumed by them in the New Testament is so suggestive in its descriptive meaning, nor is so full of implied possibility as this one---'O man of God.' Paul applies it in particular to Timothy, and generally to all Christ's followers. It is probable that he adopted the title from the Old Testament, where it is applied in turn to three men---Moses, Elijah, and Elisha. Obviously in Old Testament days it was more or less a titular designation---just another name for prophet. In an age when there was only an elementary and fragmentary consciousness of God, as in Moses day, or when amid prevalent idolatry there was no open vision, as in the days of Elijah and Elisha, those men who plainly had access to God, who declared His laws and demonstrated His being and His nature, were popularly known as 'men of God.' And, doubtless, Paul takes this title from the old records and confers it upon Timothy, who himself was familiarized with the sacred Scriptures from childhood and would readily recognized its significance. For him then, and now for us, it sets a standard, and thereby institutes a searching comparison.

The full significance of the designation may, perhaps, be appreciated more clearly by us if we remember the familiar use of analogous terms. We speak of a "man of the world," or a "man of leisure," or a "man of wealth," or a "man of ability," or a "man of business." And when we do so what do we mean? Just this; that these several things are the outstanding influences of their lives. What the world is to a man of the world, what wealth is to the man of wealth, what, in short, the ideals and pursuits for which men spend, and often indeed squander, their lives are to them, God is to be to us. A 'man of God ' is one whose reaction to the fact of God, as he increasingly apprehends Him in Jesus Christ, is unvarying constant, to be relied upon. Just as the man of the world, or the man of business, may be depended upon to act under all circumstances consistently with his devotion, so the 'man of God' is unfailing in his instinctive loyalty to Him.

He may be a man of diversified activity. In all likelihood he will be. Since no man of mere passivity, of tame acceptance of life as it comes, of unprotesting acquiescence in a state of things in the world which practically denies God, can ever be thought of as a 'man of God.' For there is no likeness to God, who is essential activity, in such manner of life. But though he is a man of diversified activities his interests are all unified under a dominant purpose.

It is full of interest to note the duties that Timothy was to undertake, the offices he was to discharge. We find, for instance, such injunctions as these; 'War a good warfare!' 'Be a good minister of Jesus Christ! ' 'Give attendance to reading, exhortation, doctrine!' 'Be an example of believers in personal character!' 'Follow after the Christian virtues---faith, love, patience!' 'Endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ!' That is not mere sentiment. There is nothing abstract about a life of holiness. It is a full life if ever a full life was lived. There will be, at least, no reflection falling upon God because the one who bears His name is taking life easily, shifting its burdens on to others, or seeking the path of selfish enjoyment. And more certainly is this so because such a life will result, as Paul says to Timothy, not in widespread and amazing successes. He says, in effect, to him, 'You will have to face the discouragement which comes when the Truth you preach is rejected by its hearers. You will have to meet the dissuasions of perilous times and persecutions. You will have to face the searching tests of seeming fruitlessness.' And only one who is actually a 'man of God,' one who is 'dead sure' of Him and of his own relationship to Him, can maintain unaffected confidence and undeflected aim in face of all this.

An old man, who had borne much and suffered long in the service of Jesus Christ, was expressing his life's intention, and this is what he said: "My prayer is that I may have work to the end of my life, and life to the end of my work.'

In urging Timothy to be a 'man of God,' and speaking down the ages by the same Holy Spirit to us, was the Apostle thinking of those men of earlier days who had conspicuously borne this title? Well, if so, let us remind ourselves that none of them, neither Moses, nor Elijah, nor Elisha, was without fault. Yet each of them was clearly recognized for what he was by the people of his own day. Nothing else explained their quality of God. For they continued to serve despite their obvious personal failures and their disappointing accomplishments. Their testimony to Him was never invalidated by their desertion of His service. And each of them brought a sense of God into every company and every situation. 'O man of God' do not look at your own imperfections; do not look at your own failures in the past; do not look at your own disqualifications and discredited professions. Look to Him to fulfill in you the undertakings of His grace.

In Christ, timothy. MARANATHA

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