Tuesday, September 4, 2012

1 Timothy 1:3-5

Summary retelling of 1 Timothy 1:3-5

Paul is quite clear with Timothy.  There are certain people in Ephesus that Timothy is to struggle against and prohibit them from teaching certain doctrines.  Timothy is also to keep the Ephesians from believing in myths or belief about the significance of their lineage.  Paul is concerned that by focusing on such things the Ephesians will do more speculating about faith and therefore be poor stewards of the time that God has given them on this earth.  Paul then reminds Timothy that the goal of their calling from God is to produce a love that comes from healing relationships, proper behavior, and genuine faith in God.

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
Paul can’t really get any blunter in the letter to Timothy unless he was to list names.  But the reality is clear.  Timothy knows from earlier discussions who the trouble makers of the Ephesian church are.  Timothy already knows who the people are that are going to focus on the wrong thing.  Timothy already knows who the people are that are going to promote bad theology.  Timothy is to stop them from having influence in the church.  This was probably a pretty tall order, which is why it comes first in the letter.  This also means that it is a pretty significant job, too.

Do you know people in your midst who always seem to focus on the wrong thing from a spiritual or theological perspective?  Have you ever tried to focus them onto the right thing?  Is this easy or difficult?  Have you ever gotten to a point where you simply ignored people who always seemed to focus on the wrong thing?  What is the benefit of this approach?  What are the hazards?

Second Thought:
Paul also cautions Timothy from listening to people who have a misguided faith.  Myths abounded in those days.  People believed that because their ancestor was so-and-so important priest or someone who filled such-and-such a role that they were more important to God.  Myths still do about even in today’s church.  Many people base their faith on things other than completely on Jesus Christ.  Many people believe that their works will save them.  {How many times do you hear people talking about how “good a person they think they are” … as if they are trying to ease their conscience.}  There are many dangers and false places of hope – I call them crutches – that people believe in.  We must be careful to always remember that our salvation comes from God alone, by His grace alone, and nothing we can do earns that salvation.

What kind of bad or misguided theologies have you believed in the past?  Why don’t you believe in them now?  What kind of bad or misguided theologies do you see in the people around you?  What can you do about them?

Third Thought:
Paul tells Timothy the sweet spot of ministry: love that comes from healing, obedience, and faith.  Often in the New Testament we hear about “pure” faith or “pure” religion.  {See James 1:27 as an example}  The Greek word used here and in places like it is catharos – which is one of the root words for our English word catharsis.  A catharsis is a moment of “healing” or more symbolically a moment of “understanding.”  Pure faith and pure religion originates in healing.  This makes sense.  We are sinners.  The only way for us to go from sinner to saint is through a healing within brought about by God.  When we are healed, we will want to genuinely obey.  When we are healed and genuinely obedient, our faith will likewise be genuine.  Earlier this week I was reminded of one of my favorite Dietrich Bonhoeffer quotes: “Only those who believe obey.  Only those who obey believe.” {From his book, “The Cost of Discipleship.”}   In this I think we can get a glimpse of what Paul is telling Timothy about what those who are genuinely in Christ understand about their calling.

Why do you think it is important for Timothy to understand the genuine calling of an apostle?  Do you see yourself doing the work of promoting healing, obedience, and faith?

Passage for Tomorrow: 1 Timothy 1:6-7
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