The Scriptorium

Sins and Good Works

Let's seek the one, and eschew the other. 1 Timothy 5.24, 25

The Pastoral Epistles: 1 Timothy 5 (6)

Pray Psalm 146.5-7.

Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the L
ORD his God,
Who made heaven and earth,
The sea, and all that is in them;
Who keeps truth forever,
Who executes justice for the oppressed,
Who gives food to the hungry.
The L
ORD gives freedom to the prisoners.

Read and meditate on 1 Timothy 5.24, 25.


1. What is Paul saying about sin and good works here?

2. How should we as believers respond to these words of counsel?

Paul offers a comment here on sins and good works. I imagine he meant this as an encouragement to Timothy as shepherd of the churches in Ephesus.

First, concerning sins: There are sins that everybody can see, and most people will acknowledge. These are scandalous sins when believers commit them, because, besides doing harm to others, they cast aspersions on the Church, Christ, and the Christian movement. Obviously, Paul wanted Timothy to keep an eye out for these and to deal with them appropriately.

Not all sins are visible, however. At least, not for now. Paul wanted Timothy to leave these “secret sins” to the Lord, Who will bring them out in due time for all the world to see. Pastors are not omniscient, and they can’t presume to discover all the thoughts and intents of someone’s heart. We have the Holy Spirit for that (Ps. 139.23, 24; Jn. 16.8-11). Timothy must not fail to teach about sins, and to warn people of God’s discipline and displeasure, but he needn’t go on witch hunts.

Good works: Some are “clearly evident”. Indeed, shepherds should encourage those, and equip the people in their charge to perform them. We want the world – beginning in our Personal Mission Fields – to see our good works, so that they will glorify the Lord Who does these works in and through us (Phil. 2.13; Matt. 5.13-16).

But there are other good works – probably many, many more – that go unseen, except by the people who benefit from them. These are the everyday small gestures, kind words, and helpful actions that build others up or address some need. The world won’t see these, but we need them by the truckload. A day is coming when even these works as well will be clearly noted and rewarded. 

And don’t you want to be in that line when that comes to pass?

1. Meditate on Psalm 66.18 and Psalm 73.18, 19. Why is it not a good idea to harbor secret sins in your heart?

2. How do our good works glorify the Lord? 

3. Why is it important to do good works, even if no one sees, recognizes, or acknowledges them?

Certain persons sin so deliberately and flagrantly that you no sooner see them than you know them at once to be sinners. But the defects of others are so cunningly concealed that we only learn them from subsequent information. Similarly the good deeds of some people are public property, while those of others we come to know only through long intimacy with them. Jerome (347-420), Letters 54.8

Lord, cleanse me from all sins, and fit me for good works, so that as I go out into my Personal Mission Field today I will…

Pray Psalm 146.5-7.

Rejoice in the Lord and His strength. Call on Him to guide you into all truth today, and to bring justice and provision for the needy.

Sing Psalm 146.5-7, 10.
Psalm 146.5-7, 10 (Hallelujah! What a Savior!: Man of Sorrows)
Blessed are they whose hope resides in the Lord, Christ at His side. 
By Him heav’n and earth abide – God forever reigns in Zion!

He is faithful evermore; He gives justice to the poor, 
feeds the hungry from His store – God forever reigns in Zion!

T. M. Moore

Whatever our calling in life, we are sent to bring the joy of Christ to the people around us. Our book, Joy to Your World!, can show you how to fill your Personal Mission Field with more of the Presence, promise, and power of Christ and His Kingdom. Order your copy, as a supplement to our study of 1 Timothy, by 
clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.