James Nisbet Commentary - 1 Timothy 5:4 - 5:4

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James Nisbet Commentary - 1 Timothy 5:4 - 5:4

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‘Learn first to shew piety at home.’


The test of a man’s piety is to be found in the home. It is a common complaint of to-day that men and women show their Christianity everywhere but at home and among their own people.

I. The claims of home.—The home and home relatives and friends have the first claim upon us. No amount of meeting-going can make up for the neglect of the home. Men and women have been known to look after other people’s children in Sunday-school and elsewhere while their own children are allowed to run wild, and the ground thus lost can never be recovered.

II. Piety at home.—This must be shown in—

(a) Family worship—a practice which unhappily is not as common as it used to be.

(b) A well-ordered life—patient, kind, sympathetic, and forbearing.

(c) A realisation of Christ’s presence. The truly pious person will not be content with sticking up in the living-room a card inscribed ‘Christ is the Head of this house’; he will show by his every word and thought and deed that he realises the guiding, sanctifying presence of the Master in all affairs of home life.

III. The home mission field.—Just as the claims of the home are paramount, so are the claims of our own countrymen to hear and to know the Gospel of God’s love. The needs of the foreign mission field are great, and must not be neglected, but may it never be said of us that we have been so eager to send the Gospel abroad that our own vineyard we have not kept. All home mission agencies need and deserve our warm support. ‘This ye ought to have done, and not to leave the other undone.’


‘Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.’


There are thousands whose lives are their own condemnation. These are they whose sins are ‘open beforehand.’ ‘And some men they follow after’; that is to say, there are men all fair without, but within full of disguised and deadly evil.

I. Beware of sin of all kinds.—Sensuality, excess of meat or drink, deadens the soul, makes it, like the body, heavy and drowsy. It shuts out Jesus from your view. Beware of anger, envy, pride, sloth, a want of love, a peevish tone, an evil eye, an unguarded thought. Beware of inconsistency, of indifference to anything that concerns your precious Saviour. Such things deaden the heart, and raise grave doubts within as to whether He can love such as you.

II. One sin does not come alone.—Soon its train appears, until at length there is nothing outwardly to distinguish you from the inconsistent, ungodly, professing Christian world. The spiritual life is dead. A veil hangs between you and the Saviour. Oh, sad state to fall into!

III. The most powerful intellects of those who live in sin are mysteriously limited in the perception of truth. On the other hand, have we not often seen men of no intellectual power, yet possessing such gifts of wisdom and knowledge, such ripe and fruitful apprehensions of Divine truth, as the most cultivated intellect has never attained to?

IV. Sins which follow after.—Deceive not yourself: ‘they follow after’; stealthily, surely, like shadows, turning where you turn, dwelling where you abide, mysterious, inseparable. Oh, that a word of mine could arrest you, make you hasten to Jesus, to His precious blood for cleansing, pardon, peace! Unconverted one, may the Spirit of God open your eyes! Only He can.