Stewardship of Personal Discipline

Rod Hutton November 5, 2023 1 Timothy 4:6-10
Outline

Four Factors of Stewardship

1. God owns everything, you own nothing

2. God entrusts you with everything you have

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given; He wants you to increase it

4. God can call you into account at any time, and it may be today

3 steps to be a good steward of your personal discipline

I. Have the Right Goal: Be a Good Servant of Christ Jesus (v. 6-7a)

1 Timothy 4:6-7a - In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women.

A. Reject false teaching (vv. 6a, 7)

B. Invest in studying the Scripture (vv. 6b-c)

1. Words of faith = meaning of individual passages

2. Sound doctrine = coordinating several passages for a way to live

II. Pursue the Correct Means: Godliness (vv. 7b-9)

1 Timothy 4:7b-9 - On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance.

A. Recognizing the limited value of bodily discipline (v. 8a)

1. In extent

2. In duration

B. Acknowledging the value of godliness (v. 8b)

1 Timothy 4:8b - …but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

1. For present circumstances

2. For things still to come

C. Appreciating the significance of this statement (v. 9)

1 Timothy 4:9 - It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance.

III. Pay the High Cost (v. 10)

1 Timothy 4:10 - For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

A. With our hope fixed on the living God

B. Who saves all believers

C. Who provides common grace to the lost

Though I do not look like it today, as age and other habits have had their own impacts, I have been a runner all of my life. Elementary school, High School and even college. No real hand-eye coordination, but God made me to run. After college, in the Navy…I might not be able to keep up my running routines due to being out to sea or other priorities, but when the Fit test came up every 6 months, it did not matter if I had run since the last one…I just ran.

But then I decided to do something I had never done before – I signed up for the Honolulu Marathon…I certainly could not take the same attitude I did for a fitness test…I had to really change some things to get ready for a marathon…I had to eat better…I had to run more… …5K’s and 10K’s, then 15, 20 and a Half Marathon, then a 30K…finally the marathon…it was one of the most physically demanding things I have ever done in my life…and to finish that race took a discipline unlike anything in all my years of running.

But here I stand before you today – I can tell you about that race – but other than a story, it has had very little lasting impact, even with all of the effort and discipline that went into it…I am glad that I ran the race…but for today, it is simply a check off on the bucket list –

Why?... because it was simply a physical test that God allowed me to choose for myself…he did not place it before me as a way to learn more about Him. Yes, preparations took a great deal of discipline, but it was not a trial in my life that drew me to place my hope in him. I did not have relationships with God at the time. In truth, what did I really learn…I learned that it was really hard…I learned that I was physically capable of completing it and I learned that I was no one special when it came to marathons…and after my body recovered, There was very little profit beyond a cool T-shirt

But that is why we asked someone like Marcia to share her testimony with us today. It is pretty clear that her journey took something far greater than the discipline to exercise. Her journey began with the hope that she found in Christ, even as she walked her journey alone, longing for Scott to join her…Her discipline took far more than tying up her running shoes, she had to strap on the full armor of God every day…on the days that were easier and on the days that were hard…on the days when She and Scott would take the kids to the beach, and on the days she would head out the door to church without him…how could she do that? Hope…

The kind of Hope that will help us have the discipline to walk through the trials that are in front of us today.

That is the kind of hope that we are focusing on this month as we walk though our series on

Stewardship of Hope

It is because of Hope that we are able to Steward the many gifts and callings that the Lord has placed before us. Last week we saw a powerful testimony of Stewarding our mission to share Christ in obedience to the command to go and make disciples.

If you missed last week, or you simply want to go back and review, I want to point you to the ability to always listen again on our website, or download the notes. All of that is are available to you to Steward your own growth…I know sometimes, I need to go back and look again at what I heard on Sunday…

I also want to briefly pause and encourage you to use the Stewardship devotional this year. If you did not get a copy of it last week, or you misplaced it, we have more available in the back …Whether you have been at Faith for decades, or you are new this year, I want to encourage you to take the time and use the devotional in your personal study to solidify the four factors of stewardship in your thinking as you will find that it really does impact everything in your life…

As a quick review – let’s just review these principles together…say them with me…

  1. God owns everything, and you own nothing.
  2. God entrusts you with everything you have.
  3. You can increase or diminish what God has given. God wants you to increase it.
  4. God can call you into account at any time. And it could be today.

As you study these, and I want to encourage you to memorize them, they become a part of your lifestyle, they help shape your thinking and how you choose what to do and what not to do.

As Pastor Viars described, stewardship is a broad idea throughout the Bible…it is not just about money…it is about our abilities, our health, our work, our relationships and our ministries.

And today we are going to specifically look at how we seek to prepare for any or all of these…I might even call this sermon the stewardship of preparation, but I would rather choose how God’s Word speaks, so we will study the…

Stewardship of Personal Discipline

So if you will, please turn with me to the First letter to Timothy Chapter 4, that’s on page ___ in the back section.

And just to say it out loud…if you need a copy of God’s Word – that Bible in the Chair is for you…I would want you to take it with you, write your name in it and carry it with you…because as we will see, it is a tool that God wants us to use more than just to read along with the pastor.

Paul is seeing problems cropping up in the churches and as such, he is charging Timothy with some important and challenging assignments to fix those problems. At the same time, Paul is seeking to protect Timothy so we will see the same warnings from Paul about false teachers that we have been seeing this fall in our study of 2 Peter. The danger and the harm that could come from following false teachers would be far greater than the muscle pain after a marathon, so Paul calls Timothy to steward his personal discipline so that he would be prepared for the trials to come…

Our main points will come from verses 6 through 10, but to see the context, I want us to begin reading a verse 1.

READ 1 Tim 4:1-10

With God’s word in mind – I want us to now hide it in our hearts as we see

3 steps to be a good steward of your personal discipline.

As we look to steward our personal discipline, our first step is to set the right goal for what we are seeking to accomplish.

I. Have the Right Goal: Be a Good Servant of Christ Jesus (v. 6-7a)

Look again at what we find in verses 6-7…

1 Timothy 4:6-7a In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. 7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women.

If we want to know where we are going, it helps to know the destination. In all that paul was telling Timothy to do, He wanted him to see the goal…to be a good servant of Christ Jesus.

Wouldn’t you say that is a powerful statement for us as well…I know that when all of this ministry is complete and it is time for you all to put this old man in the ground…or what about for you…what would you want others to say when this race is complete?

How about…Here lies _____, a good servant and not just a servant…a servant of Christ Jesus.

That’s a pretty good goal. That’s a target that I can get behind as I look to steward my personal discipline…so what’s it going to take to get there.

Thankfully, Paul fills in with some details that we can hold onto…

He starts by telling us we need to

A. Reject False Teaching (vv. 6a, 7)

We have focused a lot on false teaching over the past few months…When Paul says “in pointing out these things” it is the false teaching from verses 1-5 he is referring to. In verse 7 he goes so far as to say we should have nothing to do with worldly fables. We cannot tolerate them in the church, we must reject them because they are of the world, they are not drawing us to holiness and they are simply fables, myths, and lies.

If we are focused on the wrong teaching…we will be focused on the wrong goal and we will pursue things other than being a good servant of Christ Jesus.

Then from there, Just like in sports where the best defense is a good offense…Paul calls us to go on the offense to reject false teaching by…

B. Invest in Studying the Scripture (vv. 6b-c)

Are you surprised by that?

When Paul trained pastors and disciples of Christ, he pointed them over and over again to the Word of God.

When we are seeking the right goal, this step becomes more than just having your devotionals in the morning with your cup of coffee. The scripture calls us to be constantly nourished…

Back briefly to the marathon…I got up at 2 in the morning and went to the all night pancake house and ate 2 stacks of pancakes…carb loading…and I downed about 4-6 glasses of water…hydration…then even during the race I stopped at every water station and even downed those weird little squeeze packs for carbs…by mile 21, it was all gone and every muscle in my legs began to cramp…what I had done was try to nourish for the moment…what I really needed was constant nourishment that started long before the trial.

Are you seeking that in God’s Word? Nourishing your soul by referring to God’s Word for everything

You have a decision to make…What does God’s Word say? And not just I know it is in there somewhere…What Chapter and verse can I look up? What concept or theology helps me to evaluate my options?

Paul knew that his readers would need the life-giving and unchanging source of truth to navigate this world. Paul uses two phrases to describe two aspects that help us in our discipline

First…

1. Words of Faith = Meaning of individual passages

To be a good servant of Jesus Christ, we must steward the personal discipline to grow in our knowledge and understanding of the meaning of individual passages of Scripture lest we begin to use God’s word in a flippant way to simply say the things that make us feel better.

For example – Paul says “I can do all things through he who strengthens me.” Kathy and I once sang that verse repeatedly from the back of the ski boat as we wanted to encourage our son Chris as he was learning to ski…not sure I was being a good servant of Christ Jesus then. Because that is not what the verse means

Or how about when we put a big print up in the house that says “For I know the plans I have for you…” from Jeremiah 29:11 and we want it to say God’s plan is for a big house and well-behaved children…but we fail to see that God’s plan proclaimed by Jeremiah was to send Israel back into exile.

To be a good steward of our personal discipline and to be a good servant of Christ Jesus…we must seek to know and understand the words of faith, applying them faithfully to God’s meaning, not my desires…

So a better example might be how I apply verses like “Do everything without grumbling and complaining…” that means being willing to listen to yourself and discipline your words to be words of gratitude, words that build others up rather than tear them down.

But it is also about more than just verses…What does the whole of God’s Word say?

2. Sound Doctrine = Coordinating several passages for a way to live

For example - when a person speaks about worry and anxiety – they often describe the circumstances and they attribute their response to what is happening and I can certainly find the verse that says don’t worry. Does that help without sound doctrine? The good servant of Christ Jesus sees how what they believe about God can change the way in which they respond…

We are called to cast our concerns on Him – Why? Because he cares about us? How do I know?

We are also called to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Do we really think God doesn’t know? He knows…but He tells us to make our requests with thanksgiving…giving thanks for how he has been faithful in the past, even in the same problems, that we would stand upon the truth of who God is…

Our theology impacts our ability to not worry.

But then sometimes, the trial goes on…the challenge remains…based on sound doctrine, how will we choose to live

We trust that the Lord will help us in our challenge and then we choose to obey Him, knowing the Lord has a purpose…as James tells us

James 1:3-4 “knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have it’s perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

In stewarding our personal discipline, we are seeking the right goal as we trust that God has a purpose even in the trials and challenges in our lives…We cannot hold that truth in our hearts without the constant nourishing of the words of faith and sound doctrine.

Now can I give you a couple of possible suggestions to grow in your personal discipline, and it is not about how you manage your e-mail inbox or schedule your time

I want you to think about how you can pursue the right goal as a good servant of Christ Jesus

We are just few months away from the BCTC starting February 11th. We spend a whole week applying individual texts and sound doctrine to the issues of everyday life. Honestly, I believe everyone of us should attend track 1. Not everyone who attends is there pursuing certification as a counselor and there is a consistent theme in comments and feedback…I came to learn about how to help others, and I walked away finding the help that I did not even know that I needed.

I would hope that we would all consider attending. As a church, we want to encourage all of you and as such, Faith members receive a heavily discounted registration…but if you can take the time and the fee is the last issue, come see me and we will figure it out.

Then if you say, a week is more than I can take off from work or I have small children at home…think about the Saturday before the BCTC. We will have a one-day seminar, Feb 10th, talking about what God’s Word says about Trauma. This is a common topic today and we want to be nourished with the word, rather than listening to what the world might tell us is the solution.

My point is that being a good steward of your personal discipline includes making the commitment of time that it takes to grow in our understanding of the word to address everyday issues of life and that we will not be drawn astray by the things the world might call good or wise.

Next – Our second Step is to…

II. Pursue the Correct Means: Godliness (vv. 7b-9)

Paul continues specifically saying to discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness

1 Timothy 4:7b-9 On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance.

How are we going to be good servants of Jesus? By disciplining ourselves for godliness.

It took discipline to step by step build the endurance to run a marathon…and It takes disciple for me to be able to stand before you in this sculpted form you see today…OK I can’t say that without laughing either.

But where there is humor in simply implying that about myself, God’s word says that we need to

A. Recognizing the limited value of bodily discipline (v. 8a)

Notice that I did not say “No” value. Again, sound doctrine tells us that man is made up of two parts, the material and the immaterial, or we could say, the body and the soul. The Bible clearly teaches that physical death results in the separation of the two parts, yet while we are alive our body and soul interact.

When I wake up in the morning, I have to get this body started maybe with a jump start of caffeine before I can effectively nourish the soul with God’s Word.

For someone suffering with cancer, it is physically taxing to be happy in Jesus when the chemo will hardly let you leave your bedroom

More than personal experience, God’s word acknowledges the same tensions in 1 Tim 5. Paul encouraged Timothy to take a little wine for sour stomach and frequent ailments.

Bodily discipline includes many things, eating, sleeping, exercise in the appropriate amounts. We will be more productive, energized, and better able to handle the trials and difficulties of life…but maybe not if I spend 12 hours a day running or in the gym…

Paul clearly values godliness over the physical disciples. Let’s quickly look at why bodily discipline is of limited value…

1. In extent

Paul says it is of limited profit. It has a limited extent…

Bodily discipline might keep my physical heart strong – but if that is my focus, then when things don’t go my way, what flows from my heart can make me just as much of a pill as the next guy.

Bodily discipline might make me look good, but am I filled with pride and idolatry in working to maintain my look?

Bodily discipline is of limited profit…I briefly read a new article about a billionaire who is seeking immortality through science. Through a strict regiment of diet, supplements, plasma infusions from his teenage son, he is seeking turn back time on his body…at what value and what cost. The plan is free if you look for it online, I just don’t have the 2 million dollars in spare change every year to put myself through it…

But even that is of limited profit…though Jesus was not speaking of an individual's pursuit of immortality, He did warn us to not fear the one who kills the body but could not kill the soul. Rather fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.

Our bodily discipline cannot save as it is limited in extent and…

2. In duration

This body is only of value for this life, for this little while and what do we know to be true…2 Cor 4 tells us the outer man is wasting away.

We can clearly see that in the effectiveness of bodily disciplines…

Running 5 miles was easy at age 37…now I am 57…these knees are not so cooperative…and I know, some of you will say…just wait for 67.

I am not suggesting we do not care about bodily discipline. In fact, I believe we should care. It’s stewardship month – We are called to steward the gift of these bodies…

But what that means is that we should all enjoy what we eat, but demonstrate self-control over how much and that we should remain active so that we can be active in ministry and that we should regularly seek medical care with an eye on identifying early the most harmful ways we are wasting away.

But in all of that, we must remember that bodily discipline is of little profit and we need to pursue the right means by disciplining ourselves for the purpose of godliness because we see the value of godliness.

B. Acknowledging the value of godliness (v. 8b)

Bodily discipline is of limited profit…but

1 Timothy 4:8b but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

I promised that I would come back to describe godliness based on what God’s Word says – I guess this would be as good a place as any…

In our study as a pastoral team, we want to present this definition…

Godliness characterizes the person who lives with an active awareness that God is with them and a desire to respond in a way pleasing to God.

If I say I profess to make Christ the Lord of my life, do I choose to follow him, and choose to do the things that honor and please Him?

  • Do you think that a person would watch pornography if Jesus appeared visibly to them and asked, “Why are you watching that?”
  • Do you think a husband would blow up in anger if Jesus appeared visibly and asked “why did you use that tone of voice and harsh words when you spoke to one of my children?”

A person who pursues godliness, who recognizes that Jesus is present in their life, chooses to take specific and practical steps to live more consistently with God’s Word.

This is where personal discipline is so important. When Paul says to discipline yourself, he is referring to the actions of an athlete to prepare for the race, or of a soldier preparing for battle. Like these examples, personal discipline takes structure and practice…

Here are a few ideas to help us a l live more aware of God’s presence and motivate us to live more in line with Him…

  • Prayer. It seems simple. Make it a habit…in the morning…at meals…and at bedtime
  • To take it to the next level…keep a prayer journal with a list of prayers that you may rotate through
  • need to address impatience while you are driving…tape a card with Phil 2:3-4 to your dashboard…
  • Want to love your wife more…write 1 Peter 3:7 in dry erase marker on your bathroom mirror.
  • You can’t do everything at once…choose one area you want to grow in God’s grace…
  • Do you grumble and complain – choose to give thanks?
  • Do you run to TV, alcohol or cigarettes just to get away? Commit to addressing problems right away.

It’s hard…I know…there is a cost…I know

But in 2 Tim 2, Paul calls us to…

2 Tim 2:3-5 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. 5 Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.

This might mean having to give up some things, including stuff we see as good, to make room, time and bandwidth to do what is best as we discipline ourselves for godliness because it is profitable…

1. For Present Circumstances

While godliness does not promise ease and comfort, in fact 2 Tim 3 says all who pursue it will be persecuted, but godliness does reduce the stress, pressure and hardship that comes as a consequence of living an ungodly life.

When you seek godliness, you speak to your spouse differently, you resist temptation differently, you make decisions that are in the best interest of the Lord and those around you…It changes how you live and bring Proverbs 3:5-6 to life

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

But don’t miss what follows

Proverbs 3:7-8 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. 8 It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones

That’s godliness…and it sure sounds like a blessing for the present…

And we also know it is

2. For things still to come

We know that as a follower of Christ, we will enjoy eternal life, but godliness today has even more blessing then…

Luke 18:29-30 And He said to them, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.”

No matter how many miles I run, I cannot change my eternal state or add to my eternal rewards, but disciplining myself for the purpose of godliness – that is the workout that matters.

C. Appreciating the significance of this statement (v. 9)

If Paul had not convinced you to this point…he wanted to place the exclamation point right here.

1 Timothy 4:9 It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance.

Paul is essentially saying – if you remember anything…remember this. “bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

Then the third step to being a good steward of our personal discipline is a willingness to

III. Pay the High Cost (v. 10)

Friends – everything has a cost. We must decide what we are willing to pay…not with money, but with our effort…

1 Timothy 4:10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

The Lord clearly asks that we be willing to pay the cost associated with disciplining ourselves for the purpose of godliness. And He also clearly says that the reward is worth the high cost.

The labor and strife we invest…it is worth it…Why?

With our hope fixed on the living God

Because our hope is in a living God. In the OT, the name the Living God was used to show the comparison to the dead and inanimate idols that others called gods…But we serve a living God who is active in our world

Our hope is fixed on Him that He allow us to be good servants of Christ Jesus and that he will reward those who diligently seek Him, disciplining ourselves for godliness, trusting that He is able to help us grow to be like Christ.

And we Steward our Hope in Him because of what we know to be true…Our God Saves…

B. Who saves all believers

As we read verse 10, it can bring up some big questions, but to start I want to focus on the truth everyone agrees on…

God saves believers.

This is a truth that motivates us to Steward our mission as we studied last week and it is the truth that motivates us to steward our personal discipline…because no one can discipline themselves into heaven.

When I met Scott Beutler almost 5 years ago – I saw a man of discipline, in how he sought to exercise, in how he cared for his cars and home…in many areas of his life…but those disciplines were of little profit.

The greater profit came from inside the home as Marcia disciplined herself for godliness, as she sought to live a life for Christ in a manner that would win her husband without a word by her behavior. And assured of her own salvation, she trusted the Lord with her husband. She did so for decades…long before I met Scott. I can only imagine how difficult that must have been…

Marcia’s stewarding of her personal discipline came a great profit as the Lord used her life and testimony to bring new life to her husband. Though, they did not have decades together as believers, I know that Marcia values the eternal rewards of one day worshipping our Lord in eternity.

Folks, is there someone in your life who you desperately want that they would choose Christ, a spouse, son, daughter or friend. Take hope in our living God who is actively saving people, who is miraculously transforming lives. Pursue godliness so that you can be a good servant to Jesus in stewarding your discipline. Marcia heard these words for decades and I know that she would not trade a day of it.

And if you are the person who others are praying for, maybe you don’t even know they are praying for you…if you have not chosen to make Christ Lord and Savior, I want you to know it is not possible to be too early, but tragically, it is possible to be too late. If you have questions, please stop today and come find one of our Pastors or a friend you see pursuing true godliness the way I have described today, and pursue the answers that will change your eternity

But I also want to address why Paul added especially believers…It is easy to agree that God saves believers, because it is consistent throughout Scripture…but what about the phrase – the savior of all men…

By looking at the whole of God’s word, we see God as one

C. Who provides common grace to the lost

The saving of all men indicates that there is a saving deliverance that is experienced by all men, but again, from the whole of God’s Word, Paul is not pointing to eternal life.

In this case, we are speaking of common grace which describes how every person experiences God’s protection, care and even deliverance. They may not recognize it or acknowledge it, but it still happens. That deliverance includes God’s forbearance as He delays our penalty of sin, patiently waiting for those who will believe. Is he waiting for you?

And for those who are followers of Christ – Are you willing to Pay the cost, to give up your desires to choose to pursue godliness? Will you Trust the Lord with the rewards knowing that it may be your testimony that He will use with someone you love…because He came to seek and save the lost.

Today we have emphasized the stewardship of personal discipline and the 3 steps we are each called to take…To set the right goal, being a servant of Christ, to choose the right means, a life disciplined for godliness and a willingness to pay the cost, trusting that our God can do far greater in saving the lost.

Authors

Rod Hutton

Roles

Pastor of Northend Ministries - Faith Church

Director - Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries

Executive Director - Vision of Hope

Chair of the Northend Properties Board - Northend Ministries

Certified Biblical Counselor - Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries

Bio

B. Mathematics – University of Minnesota
M.A. – National Security Affairs – Naval Post Graduate School
M. Div. – Faith Bible Seminary

Pastor Rod Hutton and his wife Kathy have been married for 34 years. They have five children, Chris, Tim, Malia, Grace and Josie. The Hutton’s came to Lafayette on assignment with the Navy to Purdue University which afforded the opportunity to attend Faith Bible Seminary. In 2018, Rod retired from Naval Service and joined the staff to lead the efforts in opening and operating the Northend Community Center and in 2019 he was ordained as a pastor with Faith Church. In 2024, he transitioned to the role as Director, Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries.