I was reading in 1 Timothy when I came across these verses through which Paul emphasized four discipleship practices to Timothy:
Until I come, give your attention to public reading, exhortation, and teaching…. Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all.1 Timothy 4:13,15 (CSB)
- Public Reading. According to LifeWay Research, the number one predictor of spiritual growth is daily Bible reading. There is also something powerful about public reading of scripture. I encourage you to read it aloud–even in your private devotions. Listen to God in His Word: what did He say, what is He saying, what is your response, what will you do, what did you do? Teach others to listen to Him. Keep your relationship fresh.
- Exhortation. The word is about encouragement and urgency. We are to be cheerleaders. In our negative world, disciples need encouraging words. Without doubt, exhortation is best done in relationship. So, who needs to be encouraged? Who needs your testimony, a warning, or your help?
- Teaching. The KJV uses the word, “doctrine.” In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus commanded us to make disciples…teaching them to obey everything He commanded us. Teaching is an active, investing word. It assumes we know what we are teaching to others. This involves helping disciples examine EVERY decision through the lens of scripture (“to obey”). Teaching includes our children, grandchildren, friends, relatives, neighbors, and others on our path.
- Practice These Things. This is about example and action. Pay close attention to your life and teaching (v. 16)—your teaching should be who you are/how you live. Like doctors and attorneys, disciples are to “practice” these things. Commit to them; persistently practice them. Be like the Matthew 7 builder who built his house on the rock “who hears these words of mine and acts on them.”
While Paul sent these verses to a young pastor, these are also important lessons for disciple-makers and our disciples. Read, exhort, teach, and practice. Be a disciple. Make disciples!