Things That Profit – 1 Timothy 4. 8; 2 Timothy 2. 21; 3. 16; Titus 3. 8

God’s dealings are not pointless and purposeless. He is not experimenting with this thing and that, in the hope of ultimate success. God knows nothing of “trial and error”. He is carrying eternal purposes to complete and glorious consummation, and He will not be frustrated by the least failure on earth. The eternal state will commence for men, when He who sits upon the throne will not only say, “Behold, I make all things new”, but also, “It is done”, Rev. 21. 5-6.

God has revealed to us His purposes and the means by which He will accomplish them. The apostle’s prayer was that we might be filled with the knowledge of His will, and this gives purpose to our lives. We know the will of God, and we are taught from whom, and by what means, opposition comes. The Lord’s people are therefore warned against false things that hinder or oppose the will of God, and their lives are meant to be profitable, based on a clear understanding of the will of the Lord, Eph. 5. 17. Without guidance from the Lord, we would be drawn by our fleshly desires to a life of self-pleasing, or deceived into serving causes that are not prompted by the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures show us how to distinguish that which is profitable from that which is unprofitable, in teachings, our manner of life, the things upon which we expend time and effort, and those upon which we set our affections.

In the New Testament there are Epistles written to two servants of Christ,Timothy and Titus, with apostolic direction serving the Lord for a time, at Ephesus and Crete respectively.

The Epistles are concerned with matters of local churches, and so are most instructive to us, who, in local churches, seek to further God’s purpose and live to profit. Let us refer to

1 Timothy 4. 8 first, to read of things profitable. The Word says “godliness is profitable” and this in a twofold way, for its profit concerns this life and that which is to come. Solomon gratified all his desires for pleasure, and his conclusion was, “No profit”, Eccl. 2. 11, so in seeking a profitable life we should not confuse it with a pleasure-loving life. Psalm 1 and Psalm 4. 3 are examples of the blessedness of a godly life, and in our Epistle Paul says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain”, 6. 6. The results of godliness are the only gain we shall carry from this life into the next. While it has promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come, it is not a life of pleasure nor does it promise material prosperity, but its fruits are abiding.

Bodily exercise, by comparison, has short-lived profit, and occupation with unhallowed and uninspired fables is of no profit. Godliness is developed through exercise, 1 Tim. 4. 7, not in the gymnasium or on the sports field but in the secret place, with our Bible and on our knees. Daily seeking fellowship with God through His Word and in prayer, with obedient heart and responsive will, produces godliness that others will see and from which they will profit, v. 1 5.

The implication of this letter to any would-be servant of the Lord who desires to be “a good minister of Jesus Christ” is that he is to speak truth, feed on truth and be of godly character, v. 6. The next verse to read is

2 Timothy 2. 21. In the Authorized Version the word translated “meet” appears again in 4. 11, where it says Mark is “profitable”. We are reading then, of different vessels for different purposes. Some, of gold or silver, are honoured in being for the master’s use, in a great house. They appear on his table while others, of wood or earth have no honour, being perhaps for storage or kitchen use. The apostle uses his illustration to show the need for cleansing and separation if one is to be profitable for the Master. The word used is “despot”, applied to the master of a slave, having sovereign power over him. If we would have Him use us, and the choice is entirely His, we must be purged and set apart, being meet or profitable, or else He will not use us. If the Lord finds us unsuitable for His use, of what value is our zeal or reputation as servants, for there can be no results of the kind we desire? Such labour is not “in the Lord”, 1 Cor. 1 5. 58.

2 Timothy 2. 14 refers to activities that yield no profit and by contrast, verse 15 speaks of diligence required so that one may be approved, not unto men, but unto God. One of the profane and vain babblings was the word of Hymenaeus and Philetus, who said that the resurrection was past already, (perhaps drawn from a reference to Matthew 27. 52), and overthrew the faith of some. From the defiling effect of these false and destructive errors, that were like a spreading gangrene, the Lord’s servant was to purge himself and depart from iniquity for they produced ungodliness. Participation in wrong things will result in our not being meet for the Masters use, so that there will be no blessing from our service. How clearly do these verses point to the condition of the servant rather than to his capacity or knowledge. The third reference to profitable things is

2 Timothy 3. 16 where we read “All scripture is … profitable”, and this in a four-fold way. First, for doctrine or teaching, for while holy men of God wrote them, they did not originate them. “Inspiration of God” means “God in-breathed”, so God moved the writers. The teaching is infallible and permanent. Next, they are profitable for reproof. They test or prove, and so expose and rebuke error. Third, they correct and restore to right ways and thoughts. 1 Corinthians 10. 1-10 is an instance of this use of Old Testament writings. Fourth, their profit is for instruction in righteousness. The word used here relates to the training and education of children. Similar teaching is in the words, “nurture”, “admonition” and “chastening” of the Lord. We should love the Scriptures and read them earnestly because they are the all-important equipment for the man of God. If we who have responsibility in assemblies will seriously study the Scriptures, we shall be better able to discern error that abounds in our time, and be able to counsel believers who need help. We generally think of 2 Timothy 3. 15 as applying to the initial imparting of salvation but it was written to a responsible servant of Christ. It may be that present salvation for him was in view. It is still a life of faith, and the Scriptures when heeded, were able to make Timothy wise. They will do the same for us. Our last reference is

Titus 3. 8 where, after urging that believers are to maintain good works, Paul adds, “These things are good and profitable unto men”. The next verse, by contrast, mentions things that are unprofitable and vain. We ought to be wise enough to know what things fulfil the Lord’s will and what things are vain.

Religious leaders are concerned with social and racial ills and their solution, but little is said of the true means of social improvement as the result of conversion to God. The Gospel of God’s grace must be preached, but people need to see the results of grace in those who believe it. Unbelievers can understand good works that arise from the inward effects of the work of God in the life. Paul says they are profitable unto men, and the Lord Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”, Matt. 5. 16. Our good works are the shining light. No great organization is required. We just need a love for souls, and the Spirit will reveal needs and prompt our works.

The Revised Version margin gives “profess honest occupations” but this gives a meaning for “good works” which is different from the other references in Titus, namely 1. 16; 2. 7, 14; 3. 1. Sound or healthful doctrine and good works are frequently mentioned in this short Epistle and it seems wise here to give to good works the meaning generally accepted. The Lord Jesus went about doing good, for God was with Him, Acts 10. 38.

In the Epistles to Timothy and Titus the apostle has set out things that profit. First godliness of life; next separation from all that defiles, that the Lord may be able to use us; third the study of the Scriptures and obedience to them in heart, life and testimony, that by them we may be completely furnished; and last, a ministry to men of good works, open to all of us, and showing the character of the One whose Gospel has converted our lives.

So living, we shall not suffer loss at the judgment seat of Christ.


Your Basket

Your Basket Is Empty