Today’s reading is 1 Tim 2
I love the instruction Paul writes to us in the first verse of this chapter. “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” He goes on to say that we should be praying for all who are in authority so that we can live at peace and be marked by godliness and dignity. God wants us to pray for everyone because He wants everyone to be saved and understand the truth. Jesus gave His life to reconcile God and humanity and to purchase freedom for everyone.
Pray for all people…what does that look like for me? Paul helps me out a bit more by giving some guidelines in these verses. Ask God to help others. I can do that. Intercede on others behalf when you know they are struggling to reach out to God for themselves, or if they don’t have a relationship with Him at all, I should go to God for them and ask Him to help them. That makes sense. God wants me to be thankful for others. He wants me to be grateful to Him for creating other people and allowing them to be in my life whether I enjoy them or not. This one might feel a bit tougher to do consistently, but sure helps me keep my heart centered on God instead of myself. God wants me to pray for my leaders. The ones in my family, at church, at my workplace, in my country, and in the world. God’s desire is that all people be saved, so if I pray for people to meet Jesus and to accept Him, this is good and pleases God. It’s pretty clear after reading these verses that God is not looking for a “daily blanket prayer” meant to cover all people. He wants us to pay attention to the people we encounter. He wants us to be aware of the people we meet, work with, shop with, sit at the kids swimming lessons with, make conference calls with, live next to, etc. If I have enough time to think about these people and notice them throughout my day, I have enough time to lift them to Jesus in prayer. I can thank God for them, ask Him to help them, and ask God to draw them to Him if they don’t have a relationship with Him, without even knowing very much about them. I can work on this. I can learn to pray for people I encounter instead of breezing right by without a second thought.
The next section of this chapter, vs 8-15 are a bit trickier to figure out. I had to drag out my commentaries again to get some help on culture and customs from this time period so I could grasp more of the heart of what Paul is trying to convey. It looks like the principle behind Paul’s instructions for women’s dress, hair style and jewelry was more about them emphasizing the internal over the external. Clothes, (as long as they are not sexually suggestive) jewelry and hairstyles are not wrong in themselves, but can take on too much importance in our hearts which shows us that we might be struggling with misplaced values. When our focus is on our hearts and being good to others, then our beauty is seen from the inside out. This is what Paul is asking women to aim at.
Verses 11-15, honestly, I wish were in someone else’s chapter to post on! Ugh!! Even the commentaries admit that this is one of the most difficult passages in the New Testament to interpret. Good, it’s not just me! I am not going to make a guess at explaining this. I would encourage you to look into some explanations and options written by much more studied persons than myself. Research some word studies on “quiet” and “submissive” in this biblical context. Ask God to speak to you on what He wants you to understand from this group of verses. Ask Him if He wants you to consider changing your thinking around this topic. (Maybe after trying to figure out the meaning of these last verses, Paul’s earlier command to pray for all people seems a little easier…)