August 20 — Silence and solitude reflections

You face anxiety by taking life one day at a time. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble, Jesus said.

The more mature I get, the more I understand the wisdom of this. Presence is key. Tomorrow is not promised. A lot can change in 24 hours. But more often than not, the moment is full of blessings from God, and in it you have an opportunity to love him. That choice, that possibility, is always before you. And there is almost always cause for gratitude.

Thoughts from 1 Timothy:

I. Here is both the fuel and the great object of Paul’s charge: “love that issues from a pure heart and clear conscience.” This is critical to remember throughout the rest of the book, which I imagine some could read as a bit stodgy, fundamentalist, or legalistic. But the aim is love. That’s why elders and deacons have all those qualifications. That’s why Paul urges prayer for all who are in authority. That’s why he talks so much about honoring widows and caring for one’s family and the relationships between masters and servants. That’s why he stresses doctrine and teaching. That’s why he warns about the love of money. We need to know this stuff to become better lovers.

II. Look at Paul’s exhortation to Timothy in 4:11–16: “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 to 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.”

Public reading of Scripture, set an example, devote yourself, practice, immerse, progress, persist. That sounds awfully liturgical — rhythmic, regular, and disciplined — yet it also leaves open the possibility of immediate, dynamic, Spirit-empowered transformation, because Timothy had a gift that was given by the laying on of hands.

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