For every creature of God is good. The gospel stood in a difficult position. On the one hand was asceticism, with its hermits of every creed, and its retreats in Asia, Africa, and Egypt; on the other hand was Epicureanism with its philosophy of enjoyments, which ran into lawless excess. We must judge a new religion by its first teacher; for Christ was his own religion alive and in action. John the Baptist was an ascetic; but Christ came eating and drinking, and his enemies said, "Behold, a wine-bibber, and a friend of publican and sinners." His first miracle was at a marriage festival, and he dined with the Pharisees. We have here an example in morals. Every creature or creation - not necessarily a living thing - is good. Show that it is from God, and then it must
be good. In the story of Creation, after every new day, "God saw that it was good."
I. ASCETICISM MAKES A FALSE WORLD OF ITS OWN. It narrows life; it empties the fountains of joy, it destroys the hopes of youth, it degrades the body, and treats matter as though it were evil. God's idea of life is that body, soul, and spirit are to be redeemed.
II. THE CHRISTIAN. FAITH MAKES A TRUE WORLD OF MEN'. We are to be trained through use, even when use is dangerous; for test makes manhood. "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation." We are to have the analogy in Nature. She is to stand the storm, and be strengthened by it. So the atmosphere is purified, so the roots of the trees take faster hold of the soil. What a world of disease and death this would be without currents and waves and storms!
III. THE CHRISTIAN FAITH HAD FALSE INTERPRETERS. It could but be that the surrounding tendencies affected the Christians. Just as there were Judaistic Christians, so there were those affected by the old Manichean doctrine "that matter was evil." Consequently they would treat the body as corrupt and evil. The apostle, therefore, is not only general, but specific in his statement, "Some forbid to marry and forbid to eat meats;" and he repeats the expression, "which God hath created." The same tendency appeared, and was fatally developed, in the monastic life of the Church. The monk and the nun appeared to possess a special sanctity, but it was not really so. The forces of nature, if they have not pure avenues of enjoyment, will be sure to find impure channels; and history shows that monasteries have been associated with hidden vice and criminal deeds of shame, though softened over with vesper chants and morbid garments of melancholy hue. - W.M.S.
For every creature of God is good.
In meeting the heresy which he foresaw, the apostle asserted one of the noblest principles in our heritage as Christians: "Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer." In other words, a common meal may become a sacrament to us if it be rightly received: and to a true follower of Christ no relationship will prove more saintly than that between husband and wife; nothing more pure than fatherly and motherly love; nothing more promotive of spiritual life than the duties and responsibilities of sons and daughters to their parents. All things and all relationships may become holy to us. This was the teaching of Paul, and of his Lord and ours. You see, then, that Paul wisely meets the error by stating the truth, which must conquer it.
I. THE EXPLANATION OF THIS PRINCIPLE. The apostle maintained a truth, which being received will always save the Church from the old error, in whatever form it comes. He declared that everything was made by God, and that everything God made was good, and only became bad when used in a wrong spirit. Our heavenly Father would have us take His gifts as constituting a holy eucharist, bringing blessing to us and evoking praise and thanks to Him. A truth which condemns alike the ascetic in the Romish Church, and the Plymouth Brother, who thinks that business is worldly, social joys pernicious, and newspapers fatal to one's spiritual welfare. Be brave and be trustful in the use of all that God has given you. It was characteristic of the religious faith of the Hebrews that it maintained the doctrine, that all things were of God; that there was one Creator, all-wise and all-good.
II. THE APPLICATION OF THIS PRINCIPLE.
1. In its application to the natural world it is doubtless generally believed amongst us. Flowers and fruits, and golden corn and waving trees, all originated in God's thought, and are the products of His laws. But do not these words of Paul warrant us in going further? Is not the ever-living, ever-present God, who makes the flowers and rules the world, the ordainer of our lot, the appointer of our circumstances? And if this be so, does not belief in it give sacredness to earthly duties, and dignity to those which are most trivial?
2. Make application of this truth to the occupation of life. There are times when we feel as if we could do better work than falls to our share. In the depressed condition of commerce especially, well-educated men are forced to take up employment which leaves their best and most cultivated powers unused. But we believe that what God has ordained, as well as what He has created, will prove to be good and best in the long run "that drudgery is as Divine as dignity; and that training for the hereafter is more valuable than triumph here. Everything depends on how you receive and do your work. You may go to your office as a grumbling slave, or you may go as Christ's happy servant. No occupation (unless there be sin in it) is to be spurned, no creature of God is to be rejected," but we are to say with the apostle, I know, and am persuaded of the Lord Jesus, 'that there is nothing unclean of itself.'" Evil is not in the thing, but in the spirit which wrongly receives, or uses, the thing.
III. THE TESTING POWER OF THIS PRINCIPLE. Nothing is to be rejected if it be received with thanksgiving. But that implies that you ought to reject what you cannot receive with thanksgiving to God. Prayer and thanksgiving to God may be to you what the legendary Eastern king found his formula to be, for when a cup of poison was put within his reach, and he took it into his hand, he named the name of God and made the sign of the cross over it, according to his constant custom, and the poisoned chalice was suddenly shattered in his hand and all the poison was spilled. Name God's name over everything doubtful, and no poison of sin shall hurt you.
IV. THE TWOFOLD REASON GIVEN FOR THIS PRINCIPLE. In the fifth verse the apostle explains more fully how common things are made sacred. I say advisedly made sacred, for the word he uses means just that. It does not signify that the things are declared to be holy, but that they are actually made holy by the Word of God and prayer.
1. Now the "Word of God" is not the utterance of His name over food as a sort of talisman. The allusion is to "the Word," or command of God, which expressly gave permission and authority to man to use whatever was suitable for him in the vegetable and in the animal kingdom — "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things." That Divine ordinance makes all things sacred for the use of man; but man's loyal and grateful acceptance of it must be combined with the ordinance, in order to make his use of things a right and not a usurpation. Hence the apostle says, everything is made sacred by the Word of God.
2. And prayer, and these which God has joined let no man put asunder. In the former phrase you see the top of the ladder which reaches heaven, in the latter you see the foot of it resting on the earth — and to a prayerless man it is only a vision of glory beyond his reach. God's Word to you bestows the gift, but your word to God must appropriate the gift, or else it is not sacred and Divine.
A minister who had lately occupied the pulpit of a brother was dining with the family of the absent minister, when the conversation turned upon the subject of teetotalism. The lady who presided at the table said, "Ah! I do not like your doctrines; you go too far in refusing the good creatures of God." No notice was taken of the remark for some time; the minister kept on with his dinner, but at last he said, "Pray, madam, can you tell me who made this?" pointing to a glass of water that stood before him. The lady replied, "Why, God, I suppose." "Then," said the minister, "Madam, I think you do us an injustice when you accuse us of refusing the good creatures of God." Silence again reigned. By and by he said, "Madam, can you tell me who made yours?" pointing to the glass of beer that the lady preferred. "I can't exactly say I can. "Then, madam, replied he," allow me to say there is some apparent inconsistency in your first remark. You prefer taking a thing man has made to that which God has bountifully provided, and yet you accuse me of rejecting God's creatures, because I prefer water to beer. Madam, I leave the matter to your more serious consideration." The lady has since seen her error, and joined the ranks of the total abstainers. If it be received with thanksgiving. —I.
WHAT THE SCRIPTURES TEACH.
1. That it consecrates food to a holy use (1 Samuel 9:13; Matthew 15:36; 1 Corinthians 10:30, 31; 1 Timothy 4:4, 5).
2. That danger or the need of utmost haste should not interrupt it. Acts 27:35.
3. That it is a religious duty (Romans 14:6; Colossians 3:17; 1 Timothy 4:3).
4. That we do not live by bread alone (Matthew 4:4).
II. REASONS FOR SAYING GRACE.
1. Because we have health.
2. Because we have appetite.
3. Because we have food.
4. Because we depend upon God's bounty for the providential supply of daily food (Psalm 145:15, 16).
5. Because analogy confirms its practice.When we receive presents from friends, it is a pleasure to express our thankfulness; how much more to acknowledge our gratitude to God for food to nourish us and for temporal comforts.
III. WHAT ITS OMISSION SHOWS.
1. That we are unrenewed in heart.
2. Or, that we are thoughtless and ungrateful.How base a thing is ingratitude. How inconsistent in a professor of religion.
1. It sets a good example and lets others know that we are the Lord's.
2. It promotes gratitude.
3. It promotes morality and religion in the family.
King Alphonso X., surnamed "The Wise," succeeded to the throne of Leon and Castile in 1252. On learning that his pages neglected to ask the Divine blessing before partaking of their daily meals, he was deeply grieved and sought diligently to point out to them the evil of this omission. At length he succeeded in finding a plan. He invited the pages of his court to dine with him. A bountiful repast was spread, and when they were all assembled around the table the king gave a signal that all was in readiness for them to begin. They all enjoyed the rich feast, but not one remembered to ask God's blessing on his food. Just then, unexpectedly to the thoughtless guests, entered a poor, ragged beggar, who unceremoniously seated himself at the royal table, and ate and drank undisturbed, to his heart's content. Surprise and astonishment were depicted on every countenance. The pages looked first at the king, then gazed upon the audacious intruder, expecting momentarily that his majesty would give orders to have him removed from the table. Alphonso, however, kept silence; while the beggar unabased by the presence of royalty ate all he desired. When his hunger and thirst were appeased he rose, and without a word of thanks departed from the palace. "What a despicable, mean fellow!" cried the boys. Calmly the good king rose, and with much earnestness said: "Boys, bolder and more audacious than this beggar have you all been. Every day you sit down to a table supplied by the bounty of your heavenly Father, yet. you ask not His blessing, and leave it without expressing to Him your gratitude. Yes, each and all of you should be heartily ashamed of your conduct, which was far worse than was the poor beggar's."
TopicsAside, Cast, Created, Creature, Evil, Gratitude, Nothing, Praise, Received, Refused, Rejected, Thanksgiving
Outline1. He foretells that in the latter times there shall be a departure from the faith.6. And to the end that Timothy might not fail in doing his duty, he furnishes him with various precepts.
Dictionary of Bible Themes1 Timothy 4:4
1050 God, goodness of
1325 God, the Creator
4006 creation, origin
4026 world, God's creation
6746 sanctification, means and results
8325 purity, nature of
1 Timothy 4:1-4
1 Timothy 4:1-5
8237 doctrine, false
1 Timothy 4:1-6
7025 church, unity
8028 faith, body of beliefs
1 Timothy 4:1-7
7756 preaching, content
1 Timothy 4:1-8
1 Timothy 4:2-5
5773 abstinence, discipline
1 Timothy 4:3-4
1 Timothy 4:4-5
4019 life, believers' experience
'Exercise thyself unto Godliness.'--1 TIM. iv. 7. Timothy seems to have been not a very strong character: sensitive, easily discouraged, and perhaps with a constitutional tendency to indolence. At all events, it is very touching to notice how the old Apostle--a prisoner, soon to be a martyr--forgot all about his own anxieties and burdens, and, through both of his letters to his young helper, gives himself to the task of bracing him up. Thus he says to him, in my text, amongst other trumpet-tongued …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Practice of Piety
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Epistle ii. To Anastasius, Bishop of Antioch.
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Lastly, Let us Hear the Lord Himself Delivering Most Plain Judgment on this Matter. ...
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"But Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God, and his Righteousness, and all These Things Shall be Added unto You. "
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Prefatory Scripture Passages.
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Perfect in Parts, Imperfect in Degrees.
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Seed Scattered and Taking Root
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Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts
"We must Increase, but I must Decrease. "
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It is not only without any warrant of Scripture that matrimony is considered a sacrament, but it has been turned into a mere mockery by the very same traditions which vaunt it as a sacrament. Let us look a little into this. I have said that in every sacrament there is contained a word of divine promise, which must be believed in by him who receives the sign; and that the sign alone cannot constitute a sacrament. Now we nowhere read that he who marries a wife will receive any grace from God; neither …
Martin Luther—First Principles of the Reformation
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Of Bearing the Cross --One Branch of Self-Denial.
The four divisions of this chapter are,--I. The nature of the cross, its necessity and dignity, sec. 1, 2. II. The manifold advantages of the cross described, sec. 3-6. III. The form of the cross the most excellent of all, and yet it by no means removes all sense of pain, sec. 7, 8. IV. A description of warfare under the cross, and of true patience, (not that of philosophers,) after the example of Christ, sec. 9-11. 1. THE pious mind must ascend still higher, namely, whither Christ calls his disciples …
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Third Sunday in Lent
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