August 1, 2017
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus. 1 Timothy 1:3 (NIV)
Paul had great affection for the church, and as he was leaving, Paul said, “After I leave, savage wolves will come in…” (Acts 20:29). In other words, they needed to protect the church from people who would make the church more about themselves than about Christ.
That is also what Paul was asking Timothy to do: “Stay in Ephesus—so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer” (1:3). When should you persevere in a ministry, and when should you consider moving on to something else? Should I stay or should I go? That’s a big question, and there are many factors. But it was easy for Timothy. If an apostle tells you to stay, you stay!
But notice Paul’s reasoning:
- Stay when other people need to be protected. “The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away” (John 10:12). The shepherd stays, even if it means giving his life for the sheep.
- Stay when you can help bring God’s people together. Paul says, “The goal of this command is love” (1:5). As long as you can contribute to the unity, you have a reason to stay.
- Stay as long as you can have a redemptive influence in people’s lives. Timothy’s aim was not to exclude these difficult people, but to win them for Christ.
- Stay as long as there is a great work to be done. There must have been times when Timothy wanted to leave. Paul says, “Stay! There is a great work for you to do.”
Are you wondering whether to stay or go? Meditate on Paul’s reasons and pray.