Todays readings… Joshua 8, Isaiah 12, 1 Timothy 1-3
“LOVE THAT ISSUES FROM A PURE HEART”
Love is a word in common use today. The utter sincerity of its use by Paul in his letters bears no relation to the way most people use it today. Paul wrote to Timothy, who is described as “my true child in the faith” – to practice “love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” [1 Tim. 1 v.5]. Such a faith is an essential ingredient in true Christ- like living. Imagine making bread without flour!
Paul illustrates his point by drawing the contrast with those who do not act in spiritual love, those who “have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions” [v.6,7] It was the spirit of the Scribes and Pharisees re-emerging amongst the believers.
He tells Timothy that, “I hope to come to you soon , but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God… 1 Tim. 3 v.15] Paul goes on to explain how each community of believers should have overseers, or elders. He goes into great detail about the qualities such persons ought to have. He must be married and have brought up children for if he cannot effectively manage “his own household” how will he properly “care for God’s church.”?[v.5]. Paul also said “he must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.”[v.6]
What is this devil? How can an overseer be seen to be condemned by a devil? The translators are inconsistent, for the Greek word diabolos they translate here as devil occurs again in v.11 about what the character of the wives of deacons should NOT be! They translate diabolos as “slanderer“ in this case! Jesus said “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil” (diabolos) [John 6 v.70] It is to be greatly regretted that the Church, over time, built up a totally fictitious story about the existence of an unseen evil supernatural spirit being.
Those who take any position of responsibility in God’s church “must be dignified, not double tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy … They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience” [1 Tim. 3 v.8,9]. Timothy is told that he should, “set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”[Ch.4 v.12]. We should all aim to do this and practice “love that issues from a pure heart.”