Hello and welcome to Foundations Daily. My name is Liam, I’m part of the team here at STC and this week I’m picking up the baton from my colleague James who, last week, shared some brilliant reflections on the end of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. This week, it’s me and we’re going to be looking together at the beginning of Paul’s first letter to his co-worker Timothy.
Our reading today is 1 Timothy 1:1-7. We are going to focus on verse 5: The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
As we’ve heard many times on this podcast, the aim, the purpose of the better life Jesus calls us to is to learn what it is to love. When asked what the greatest command is, Jesus quoted again the scriptures of old: To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbour as yourself. That’s our aim as disciples of Jesus.
As part of my role on the team, I lead a youth house group – a group of teenage lads learning together how to get to grips with the Bible and how God guides us through his word. During these sessions they’ll often hear one of our leaders (shout out to Ste Knox!) ask this classic question, ‘When making choices, we must ask ourselves this: Is what I’m doing loving God and is it loving others? If it isn’t then it’s probably not the right thing to do.’
It doesn’t sound that complicated does it? Of course the reality of our faith is … it’s not always easy to live this out in the challenging world in which we live in that so often is at odds with what the Spirit of Jesus is cultivating in our hearts. We can easily find ourselves being led down a different path.
We see that in this letter – a set of instructions that Paul wants Timothy to pass on to the church in Ephesus – a church it would seem that has been led astray by various false teachers. Paul’s message to them in essence is this, ‘Remember what it is to love’.
What does that look like? Well Paul uses three phrases to unpack it a bit further. This love he speaks of comes from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. These are three of the core values Paul cites which act as markers or indicators of a life lived in response to the Gospel – the grace and mercy offered us in Jesus Christ.
As I reflect on these, I’m reminded of how they resonate with the values system of our church here at STC. We often say that we are a people who seek to live lives of simplicity, purity and accountability.
And, do you know, the more I reflect on what I see around me, the more I realise how radically different and how vital it is that we, as disciples, reflect these values to a world around us which encourages us to be a consumer – to always want more, that lauds the hedonistic lifestyle – life is all about seeking pleasure for oneself and where a sense of entitlement – it’s my life and I deserve this – dominates our thinking.
So how do we live this out? What does that look like for us today in the classroom, with my course mates, or in the staff room? I think it looks like asking ourselves the question: Is what I’m doing loving God and is it loving others? I read this question in a Tim Keller devotional recently which really got me thinking: ‘How would you live, speak and act differently if you remembered that the Lord God was always observing you?’. It’s a great question isn’t it?
If that seems like too much a challenge and let’s be honest – it’s a pretty high bar, then we would do well to reflect back on Paul’s words to Timothy – Remind them that it’s all about love. The cross means that we are loved unconditionally not for what we do but for who we are.
It’s all about love. And his love changes us, it shapes us, it leads us to a higher and narrower path. The way of simplicity – a sincere and honest faith which comes from trusting Jesus everyday enabling us to give freely to those around us, purity – to stand out, to burn brightly for God in a world that often seems so full of darkness, and accountability, a good conscience – to submit our lives to Him, the one who purchased us at the most expensive of prices.
As I reflect on these words Paul writes today, I’m aware of the fact that if I am to be inviting others to experience this better life in Jesus, then I also need to be seeking that for myself.
Jesus, thank you for the precious gift of this new life which you have won for us on the cross. God, we thank you that you have saved us and that you love us. Help us today to embrace this better life that you have for each of us. To be a people whose lives are marked by simplicity, purity and accountability. As we seek to live for you today may we be a blessing and a testimony to your goodness to all those you place around us. In Jesus name, Amen.
BIBLE 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.