“For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10).
Paul has established in verse eight that godly exercise is more profitable than physical exercise because it leads to the desired “end,” that is, eternal life. That is the same “end” to which he refers here. Because of that belief, he and Timothy work and even suffer at the hands of others for their faith.
In spite of the sacrifices they have made, they know that trusting in the living God will reap an abundant eternal reward. This same reward is available for all who remain a believer. And Paul must be referring to active, not passive, believers for him to be consistent with messages he wrote to all the churches at that time.
What Paul sets before us, then, is that active living for Christ is the only life that will lead us to the desired “end.” If it would work for Paul and Timothy, it will work for us. Let us allow Paul’s description in this passage to stimulate us to maintain an active spiritual life that will lead us to heaven.
“And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them” (Genesis 26:18).
Contrary to the friendly covenant the Philistines had made with Abraham, they had stopped up the wells Abraham had dug and had re-named them in an attempt to obliterate remembrance of God’s people. As Isaac took over and settled in the land, God blessed him abundantly; and he became a wealthy man, arousing the envy of the Philistines.
To keep peace, Isaac agreed to re-locate; when he did, he opened up some of the wells the Philistines had filled in. And, further, he restored to the wells the original names given by Abraham.
These wells have become a symbol of the wells of living water, provided to the world by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Just as the wells of old were filled in and re-named, so man has made attempts to alter God’s plan for salvation and has even given man-made names to biblical items.
To receive God’s blessing and make heaven our eternal home, we must do as Isaac did: we must re-dig the wells of Zion. That is, we must associate ourselves with those who are diligent in following God’s plan as He gave it and in calling Bible things by Bible names. Only then will God be pleased.
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
Reality is hard to come by for many people in our world. Many are not able to see themselves as they really are or as other people see them. This kind of person is deceiving himself, and self-deception is the most extreme kind of deception.
As far as spiritual matters are concerned, there is no reason for us to be deceived. We have a spiritual mirror into which we can look; and if we look at it honestly, we can see ourselves.
We deceive ourselves if we think we can sow one thing and reap something else. That process will not work in the physical world nor will it work in the spiritual realm. We can’t think God is like man, change or ignore God’s word, nor place our ideas about Christianity on the same level as God’s and expect to make it to heaven.
Self-deception is really the Greatest Deception because when we are deceiving ourselves, we are almost impossible to reach and we usually won’t listen when someone else is attempting to teach us.
“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord God,
“That I will send a famine on the land,
“Not a famine of bread,
“Not a thirst for water,
“But of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11).
Pointing to a time of desperation, God has the prophet Amos make a prediction for some time in the future when God’s patience will have run out. The people will move toward a time when God’s word will have lost its power over them and when they will go after other gods.
At that point, God will send His people a spiritual famine, not a physical one. They will have so departed from His ways and will have so sunk into spiritual adultery that He will give up on them. He will remove their prophets and their opportunities for hearing His words.
That time came, just as God predicted through Amos. When God cut off His revelation to them, no amount of longing to hear His words was fulfilled—no amount of craving was satisfied.
This drastic prediction shows the depth of God’s dissatisfaction when people of any generation ignore His word and turn their backs on His instruction: there will be consequences, either in this life or in the life to come.