1 Timothy 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
The Three Legs of the Stool
We are to be busy about our master’s business as Christians. Three things that we are to give ourselves to are listed in this verse. They are reading, exhortation and doctrine. There are three legs on a stool, remove any one of them and the stool will fall over. If you make one leg way bigger or longer than the others, the stool will be out of proportion or crooked. The Christian life is to be temperate, or balanced.
The first leg of the stool we should give ourselves to is reading. The first thing we should give ourselves to reading is the Bible. The more Bible you put in your heart and mind, the cleaner you will live. You should also give yourself to reading good Christian literature. Reading books that make you think about the Bible in a deeper manner or that put godly thoughts in your mind will help you to grow. The old timers thought and mused more on the scriptures than we do, and reading their thoughts will help you to grow. Reading, ultimately, helps the inward; dealing with the inner man.
The second leg of the stool we should give ourselves to is exhortation. We should incite, or encourage, others to live for God. The opposite would be to discourage or incite them to live wickedly. Our actions, or example, is the main way that we can exhort others. Saying a kind word, helping others to love God; also, being excited about the things of God, the work of God, and the house of God is exhorting others. Ultimately, exhortation is dealing with others and putting out what we take in through reading.
The third and last leg of the stool is doctrine. Having right doctrine, or truths, from the Word of God is critical. All good preaching should be practical but it should also have right doctrine. There are some truths from the Word of God we just need to know, even if they don’t have an immediate practical application. We need to know how to rightly divide the word of truth. We need to know the basic doctrines of the Bible like salvation, justification, redemption, atonement, sin, heaven, hell, etc. We needed to be grounded in the word of truth. A balanced Christian has all three legs on his stool.