1 Corinthians 7:17-20
1 Corinthians 9: 19-23
2 Peter 1: 5-7
As a carpenter for 49 years now, people always assume that I would be a good teacher for younger people to learn the trade, and I do my best to try to instruct those who have a desire to learn. Yet the problem arises, as I instruct them, I can’t remember what it is like to not know. There are so many basic concepts needed to begin, that I assume, everyone knows. Things like being able to read a tape measure, knowing all the tools, being skilled in the use of the tools, being proficient in mathematics, knowing the terms of the trade, knowing plumb, level, and square, etc. These things are second nature to me, and I forget what it’s like to not know the basics.
I believe this is similar to the problem the Apostle’s faced as they started spreading the gospel to the Gentile nations. They had been under the Law, as a culture for centuries. All there lives, their neighbors, their work, their celebrations, their sabbaths, their offerings, all had to do with Godliness. They memorized scriptures, they talked the talk, they attended services, they tithed, they were generous to each other, they adhered to all the Laws demands, in general, though not perfectly. Now come in the Gentiles, what are they to give them as instruction for Godliness. In Acts 15:20 the list is amazingly simple, “abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornications, and from what is strangled and from blood.” The Apostles wrote this list, and delivered it to the Gentile churches in hope of not burdening them with too many demands, which might be an understatement, for there was a vast disparity in the cultures. As time goes on the Apostles refine the list for the Gentiles defining in finer detail what holiness really looks like, 2 Peter 1:5-7 for example, but at this time it is enough.
In our text for this day we read about Paul and Silas meeting Timothy in Lystra, in Asia Minor, a half Jew, half Greek. His father is no longer in the picture, and as Paul desires to take him along on the journeys, he feels compelled to have him circumcised. Which is best understood as a necessity for their mission for integrity purposes, for there is no such thing as an uncircumcised Jew. 1 Corinthians 9: 19-23, Paul also explains in verse 22, “I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means win some.” As such Timothy followed Paul’ desire and instruction.
A last note on this section of scripture, a look at verse 6. we see the Holy Spirit guiding Paul and Silas away from Phrygia and Galatia, next in verse 7. the Spirit of Jesus does not allow them to preach in Bithynia, and then in verse 10. Paul concludes that God the Father brings a vision to him to go to Macedonia and preach the gospel to them. Thus we see the Trinity described in a concise section of scripture.
Friends we need to be in tune with the Holy Spirit in our lives, and be willing to obey what we know now and be willing to refine our lives as the Spirit reveals new truth, and leads us daily. We too then can become all things to all men that we might win some to Christ.