Pure Heart, Pure Gospel

  1. Message:  Before I started reading the first chapter of 1 Timothy I read the synopsis in my bible. Although the greeting clearly identifies Paul as the author, I found it interesting to read that some scholars argue over the legitimacy of this because the style and vocabulary in this letter is a little bit different. Paul was not writing to the churches in this letter. He was writing to Timothy, who was not only a prominent leader in the churches, but Paul looked at him as a spiritual son. For me, this changes everything and I would expect to see a difference. What is not different about this letter at all, is that Paul was addressing the false doctrine that was rampant in the churches. We definitely saw Paul address this topic throughout his letters to the churches of Corinth, Galatia and Ephesus but in this letter we get a view from the inside as Paul was telling Timothy how to instruct “certain people” not to teach different doctrine and how to watch out for myths and “endless genealogies”. In verse 4 he was warning Timothy that these things cause empty speculations rather than God’s plan. In other words, they take people on a rabbit trail and become a distraction from the point of the gospel. To me, the most important part of this letter was in verse 5 when Paul redirected back to the goal. He said “Now the goal of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith.” These are things that can’t be faked or imitated. Our character is on display when we speak God’s word and everything we say is reflected from this character. It’s what makes us trustworthy and believable or exposes us as a fraud. Paul was speaking to Timothy as a leader and he already knew that Timothy was the real deal, but he was instructing Timothy about how to emphasize this goal and influence those he was leading. This was Paul acting in the role of an apostle. He had started these churches and appointed trusted leaders to lead and direct them to stay on course because he wasn’t able to be physically present in all of these places at once. Paul took personal responsibility for making sure the gospel was not distorted or watered down. He did this by developing leaders and pouring his heart into them so that they would pour their hearts into others and continue to spread the gospel. You can clearly see here that this was not about Paul. It was not about his ego or reputation. The only thing he cared about was spreading the gospel in purity by maintaining the goal of verse 5.  “love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith.” This is what jumped from the pages to my heart this morning as I read, and this is my challenge to myself.

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