Today’s Reading: 1 Timothy 1-6
Today’s Reflection: 1 Timothy 1:3-7
3) As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4) nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5) The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6) Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7) desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
Timothy was one of two young pastors Paul left to continue his work after his arrest and imprisonment (the other was Titus). Awaiting certain execution Paul sent letters to give final instructions to these young men to encourage them in their faith and in their ministry of spreading the Gospel.
One of the greatest concerns Paul had was that of false teaching creeping into the church. So he provided principles for his young charges to identify those devoted to the Gospel from those motivated by other interests. Paul highlights purity of heart, genuine conscience and sincerity of faith. But he also points to the root at the heart of all of these: love. Paul wrote to Timothy, “the aim of our charge is love” and cautions that anyone preaching with any other aim will find themselves in “vain discussion”, will lack understanding despite the confidence of their proclaimations.
Probably more than any other Bible writer, Paul focuses on the importance of God’s love and it’s centrality to the Gospel and the lives of Christians. We may treat these words from 1 Corinthians 13 as a throwaway, a cliché repeated endlessly at weddings, but Paul meant them seriously. And so does God.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8a – 1) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2) And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3) If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5) or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6) it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7) Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8a) Love never ends.
Sadly, it is quite apparent even today that there is another way in which some attempt to proclaim the Gospel and that is from a place of trying to control people. Whether it be judgment and condemnation based on observed behaviours, or fear motivated by the penalties of eternal death and hell, these church leaders attempt to manipulate behavior to fit a standard they have determined is ‘righteous’. This is just as the Pharisees, who attempted to control people by fear of their judgment.
John 12:42-43 – 42) Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43) for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
Control, judgment and condemnation are about fear, and fear is the opposite of love.
Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
James 4:11 – Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
1 John 4:17-19 – 17) By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18) There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19) We love because he first loved us.
And because control, judgment and fear stand in opposition of love, those who seek to control, judge and use fear, regardless of their motives, have to distort the gospel and scripture in order to create a theology that suits their purposes. But such a gospel is also devoid of the life giving power of the true Gospel of grace through Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:6-7 – 6) I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7) not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
If the motive behind ministry, preaching, teaching, sharing the Gospel or faith is anything but love it is not of God.
1 John 4:8 – Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.