1 Timothy chapter 6 vs 1 to 2 - How to Love Difficult People - JS Gillespie 

If the theme of RESPECT resonates through chapter 5 then the theme of RESENTMENT appears as the under current in chapter 6. 

Following on from 1 Timothy chapter 5 – dealing with difficult people we move into chapter 6 – 'Loving Difficult People' 

The unsung heroes of chapter 5 – Widows 

The unsung heroes of chapter 6 – Servants 

Widows – a power house of prayer 

Servants – a power house of testimony 

These servants are experiencing the reality of 'Man's search for meaning,' - Viktor Frankl, 'the last freedom a man has is to choose his attitude to any given set of circumstances.' 

From this section: 

We don't need to live with a chip on our shoulder! 'They' didn't 'do that' to you! You did! We chose and are responsible for own attitude in life. To despise is a choice! 

It is possible to serve Christ in disadvantageous circumstances, we don't need the perfect set of circumstances before we start to serve the Lord! We are called to serve the Lord in the set of circumstances we are in, not necessarily the circumstances we would like there to be. 

It is possible for unattractive, apparently disadvantageous circumstances to be the very best circumstances for us, in fact an understanding of the nature of God makes that an imperative! To be the very best circumstances for us in which to serve; eg. The Valley of Elah. 

It is possible for such circumstances to meet an unidentified need on our own spiritual life and development! We need to keep an open mind on this one! Human beings have a self serving bias when it comes to this issue! Think of the person you know who does the most criticising. How often is that critical tendency applied to themselves? Probably not very often! Self serving bias! Pride! Often the most difficult failings to see are our own failings. 

O wad some Power the giftie gie us 
To see oursels as ithers see us! 
It wad frae mony a blunder free us, 
An' foolish notion: 
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us, 
An' ev'n devotion! 

Rabbie Burns 'Tae a Louse' 


It is possible to serve in disadvantageous / unappealing circumstances. We might think that service is to be found in: 

The seas that we part  
The city walls we bring down 
The giants that we slay 
The cities we convert 
The fire we call down from heaven 
The lions that we face 
In the fire and the flame 

and sometimes it has meant that indeed! 

More often it means: 

willingness to serve 
obedience and not sacrifice 
decision to flee temptation 
willingness to bring our 5 loaves and 2 fishes 

The 'servant' of verse 1 is a 'doulos' or slave. 

He is 'under the yoke' – idea of servitude and probably not entirely voluntary servitude at that! 

I suspect very few beasts of burdens requested for the yoke to be placed upon them! 

Easy to become resentful in these circumstances! 

An a front to our pride / our dignity! 

Easy to become frustrated in that situation – to feel constrained / restricted / hindered. 

Many served in the most difficult of circumstances: 


An omnipotent God is not constrained by the presence / absence of congenial circumstances, to work. 

It is possible / essential to move within the constraints of our circumstances and live for His Glory. 

Difficult circumstances can be the very best circumstances for us to serve the way God desires us to serve. We can have all sorts of presuppositions as to how we ought to serve the Lord / what would constitute success / value / worth but we may be wrong. 

The place of Joseph in Pharaoh's household 
Consider the valley of Elah for David 
Nehemiah the cup bearer to King Artaxerxes? 
Naaman's little maid 
Esther the Queen 
Daniel and his position in Babylon 

These were all the very best circumstances in which to serve! 

If only Joseph was not a prisoner? Then what? 
If only David was not a message boy? Then what? 
If only Nehemiah was not merely a cup bearer to the King? Then what? 
If only Naaman's little maid had not been brought into captivity? Then what? 
If only Daniel was not in the Lion's den, then what? 
If only Paul was not in chains in Caeser's household. Then what? 
If only Christ was not on the cross for after all we had supposed that it had been He who should have redeemed Israel! Then what? 

The sovereignty of God means that our life is guided according to the WILL of God and not the WANTS of man / self. 


Beneficence of God means that He Desires that which is best in the life of His people – He has the desire to do this! 

Omnipotence of God means that He is able to bring that to pass – He has the power to do this! 

Omniscience of God means He knows how to do it! 

God had sovereignly placed them in these circumstances! 

Circumstances may be difficult, but so might we! Maybe we are difficult! Easier to see in retrospect! These adverse circumstances may well not be changed by us but they may well change us! We often fail to see our own faults and failings and to see our need for spiritual growth and maturity. In the worst case scenario that can render us unteachable! That is disastrous for our whole Christian life. Consider the: 

self confidence of Moses 
duplicity of Jacob 
prejudice of Jonah 
self confidence of Peter 
unbelief of the 10 spies 

Whilst we struggle to change circumstances, these circumstances may well change us! 

One of God's greatest works of consecration was worked out within the belly of a whale. 
Consider the working of God in the life of Moses in the backside of the desert 
Consider Jacob receiving a taste of his own medicine from Laban – rendered him ultimately a changed character. 

How can these circumstances be instrumental in moulding the servant? 

What good can come out of them? 

Have you noticed how God calls servants to service? They learn to serve first and then are called to service: 

Andrew and Peter 
James and John 

Have you noticed the devotion of the servant for his master? 

Eliezer of Damascus – devoted to the will of Abraham 
Peter and John – Christ 
David's mighty men – risking their lived for water from the well of Bethlehem 
Naamans little maid 
Barzillai's devotion to David 

How do I develop longsuffering? - Trials 

How do I deepen patience? 

How do I know peace – trouble. 

How do I multiply love? 

                                           Can't synthesise it 

                                           Not alchemy! 

Service is the conduit through which love flows! 

To serve: 

Self sacrificial 
Others depend upon us 

To serve is to take an interest in others, a self sacrificial investmet in their good. 

Genuine service is not possible in the absence of love. 

It is love that considers others, puts others first and loses selff in the interest of others! 

A desire to see the best for others. 

The sacrifice of self for others. 

Our dependence upon others. 

This is only possible by drawing from the Divine resources of Love! 

Like a fountain pen with a dry nib, only using it to write will make the ink flow and the pen write! 

Genuine service depends on kindness, and selflessness. 

Service runs on the fuel of love, devotion to the needs of others, selflessness. 

This draws from the well of love – deep sweet well of love. 

Love is present in the heart of the believer, by virtue of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, it only requires to be drawn upon by the believer in His service of others. 

It is not that serving generates love in the sense of creates love, it is not creatorial or love but the act of service draws from the resource of Divine love in the same was as preaching draws from the wisdom of the Spirit. In the same way that longsuffering and patience is drawn in adversity and trial, in the same way as peace triumphs by His Spirit in the midst of turmoil. 

cf. Polish Stary Doktor – Janusz Korczak (Henryk Goldszmit) went with his 192 orphans all the way to Treblinka despite the opportunity to go free himself.


Outline notes from a Bible teaching message in our series of systematic bible studies in 1 Timothy, available for free audio download or to listen online,  

Yours by God's grace in Christ  

Dr J Stewart Gillespie