August 5 I Monday
“Watch your life and doctrine closely.” —1 Timothy 4:16
“To be or not to be” and “To thine own self be true” are some famous quotes by William Shakespeare. There are numerous quotations by him; however, he did not write quotations but plays. The previous two are from Hamlet, but if we were to take those quotations and read them from their context in Hamlet, we find a much bigger meaning than just the quotations themselves.
Similarly, some of us treat the Bible like a book of verses; we divide the Bible into bite-size pieces and often detach them. We quote verses and texts out of their biblical context. We give them a meaning that they may not have if we put them back into their context.
But we need to look at the body of truth together, which is what we call Christian doctrine. Like a finished puzzle, doctrine is a coherent body of belief, where all the pieces are fitted together.
We live in a day, of course, when information has become conveyed in sound-bite size, but we cannot sound-bite the Christian life and still be effective and satisfied in it. The problem many Christians have is often a lack of clear Christian doctrine. We have
a bit over here, where we believe something, and something else over there, where we believe another thing. But it is not a coherent picture.
Paul tells Timothy in his first letter, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers”
(1 Timothy 4:16). Paul tells Timothy to persevere in the doctrine, preach truth and enable people to understand the big picture. And he explains why in his second letter: “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:3). When people do not put up with sound doctrine, “to suit
their own desires, they will gather round them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3).
Truth is not found by consensus, where a certain number of people agreeing to something makes it true. Rather, it is found by revelation and God has revealed His truth to us. Christian doctrine is not man’s subjective ideas about God. It is God’s revelation of Himself and God’s ideas about man. Doctrine is not reserved for the theological seminary classroom but should be the bread and butter of every Christian. Our understanding and knowledge of Christian doctrine on God is essential for Christian living.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, turn my ears away from seeking to hear what I want to hear, but instead keep me steadfast on Your doctrinal truth. Help me to understand the bigger picture from Your Word. Thank You, Lord.