“…give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.”
I Tim. 4:15
The linguistic picture behind “progress” or as some versions use “profit” is one of “cutting away brush in order to advance—especially an advance before a military force.” Paul’s loving desire is that young pastor Timothy not only see growth in the spiritual progress of others; he needed to also make progress himself. Such progress was to be “evident to all” literally a growth visible and open to the sight of others.
Consider the children of Israel in their departure of Egypt heading toward Canaan. If mapped their progress would have been evident, not only be geographical movements, but also in growth. With the fiery-cloudy pillar and the cool-shady cloud they marched ahead. After the Red Sea crossing, they left Egypt and its bondage forever. Their first camp was set at Marah, where they learned God can make what seems bitter to be sweet. From there to Elim where they realized all of the life of faith is not that of testing and trial. Into the Wilderness of Sin and onto Rephidim where God, refreshingly gave to them water from the rock. Then onto Mount Sinai where the stay was longer.
It was in that camping spot, lacking movement, where they had much to learn of walk, warfare and worship in the life of faith. From there toward Kadesh-barnea and the border of the Promised Land. It was there where there was a great crisis point and turning point in their pilgrimage. Notice that it was at each place where there marked a significant and needed step in their spiritual development. In each of these chapters there were lessons to be learned.
In the same way, Paul desired to plot his protégé Timothy’s spiritual progress. He encouraged that it should be open and evident for all to see. The same holds true for us. No matter how far we have come, no matter our age. Yes, Timothy was comparatively young, but give thought to Joshua 13:1—“Now Joshua was old, advanced in years. And the Lord said to him: ‘You are old, advanced in years, and there remains very much land yet to be possessed.’” Spiritual maturity… spiritual growth is not reached in the passing of years, but by our very-daily choice of obedience to the will of God. All of our days!
Beloved English minister John Henry Jowett on spiritual growth—
“We get no deeper into Christ than we allow Him to get into us.”