13 March 2018

Welcome to Tuesday’s Podcast.

Our reading today is 1 Timothy 1: 1-7 but today I will focus on verses 3-4:

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith.

Yesterday we finished Paul’s letter to the Colossian Church. Today we start First Timothy. A few things about we should know about Timothy: 1) Timothy was from a mixed heritage family: half Greek and half Jewish. Because of this he was considered illegitimate. Because of Timothy’s background, Paul thinks of Timothy like a son. He led him to Christ and discipled him – they are very close. 2) Timothy is not a super-duper Christian leader. He’s a naturally shy, nervous character so needs encouragement from Paul, his spiritual father to ‘stand firm’. 3) He has physical issues – on-going illnesses which are a struggle for him – but Paul encourages him not to be defined by them but to walk in God’s grace and faith. 4) Although most probably in his mid thirties, he’s still considered a ‘young leader’ in his culture.

Today and tomorrow we’re going to think about Timothy’s first big challenge: dealing with false teachers.

REFLECTION

Most mornings I have the privilege of walking my daughter to school. The conversations can be mixed, varied and downright random. Last week we had a conversation about someone in her class who had been saying silly things to her and her friends. It really bothered her and so I tried to offer some advice on how to approach it. I told her to ‘just ignore him’. She exclaimed that she couldn’t just ignore what this boy was saying. As we talked further it became clear to me that she felt that she had to reply to this boy. She had to defend herself, her friends, and point out the error in his arguments (she takes after her mother).

When I said you don’t have to answer him back or engage in the conversation; by engaging in this conversation you are drawn in. She remembered the phrase ‘talk to the hand… the face ain’t listening’. Said with a little bit of six-year-old-girl sass, she’ll be fine and this boy won’t know what’s hit him.

Timothy is told to challenge the ‘false teachers’.

How do you spot those teachers?

Their fruit is confusion, leaving people divided, in disunity and with a feeling of being undermined.

False teaching may masquerade as healthy intellectual enquiry – wrestling with big theological questions – but if it causes people to be unsure, if it’s done without love or care, then it’s not helpful or Godly.

Who do you listen to? Do you have a favourite YouTube speaker you like listening to because they ask those ‘big no-one-else-dares-ask questions?’

Let me ask you this: do they lead churches, or are they professional questioners? What’s the fruit of their teaching? People lovingly discipled? Do they love the church of Jesus or want to tear it down?

We may have met people who love a good theological wrestle. I’m all for some theological chat but if we are wise to recognise Paul’s advice avoid teaching or conversations that promote controversial speculation – that just draws us away from the kingdom stuff we’re called to get on with.

Speculation can become about us: Our own intellectual enquiry.

We are not to be drawn into fruitless discussions. Our call is to build up the kingdom, not tear down.

If you’re having conversations which aren’t helpful that in reality are robbing you of faith – then politely walk away. Do what my daughter does in the playground – gently, raise a hand.

PRAYER

Thank you Jesus for your grace to us. I pray that we may be built up through helpful and solid teaching.

Amen

READING: 1 TIMOTHY 1:1-7

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Saviour and of Christ Jesus our hope,

To Timothy my true son in the faith:

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work – which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.