I TIMOTHY 1:5-6: “My goal in giving you this order is for love to flow from a pure heart, from a clear conscience, and from a sincere faith. Some people have left these qualities behind and have turned to useless discussions.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: What is the goal of our Christian life? What type of fruit should we be aspiring to produce in our lives? Paul is writing this letter to a young pastor named Timothy. Some believe he may have been no older than 19-20. It has always been one of my favorite letters in the Bible, as I read it constantly as a young pastor when I began my pastoral ministry at the age of 23. Fresh out of college, I was ready to change the world, but I was also enamored and distracted by so many voices. I needed to learn how to discern the voices that were moving me toward the goal, and those that were really just useless discussions.
Rest assured, I still am actively doing this. I love to read about the power and miracles of God. I believe that all things are possible to those who believe. Yet, I have come to understand that power is not the goal of the Christian life. In fact, the pursuit of power and the miraculous can become a deterrent to actually following the proper goal. When Paul, now an old man, and facing his own mortality, writes to young Timothy, he calls him to the true values and goals of one who is desiring to be Christlike. It is simply – love flowing from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a sincere faith.
If anyone knew about power and miracles, it was the Apostle Paul. The book of Acts aptly records,
- “God worked unusual miracles through Paul.”. (Acts 19:11 GW)
Yet, it was the same Paul who wrote to the Corinthians, a church that was notorious for running after the latest teaching and focusing on the miraculous,
- “I may speak in the languages of humans and of angels. But if I don’t have love, I am a loud gong or a clashing cymbal. I may have the gift to speak what God has revealed, and I may understand all mysteries and have all knowledge. I may even have enough faith to move mountains. But if I don’t have love, I am nothing. I may even give away all that I have and give up my body to be burned. But if I don’t have love, none of these things will help me.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 GW)
When it gets right down to it, it is not what we do that is important – it is what we become! There will be many in the last days who will say – “…‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we force out demons and do many miracles by the power and authority of your name?’ Then I will tell them publicly, ‘I’ve never known you. Get away from me, you evil people.’” (Matthew 7:22-23 GW)
Now, don’t misunderstand me. I believe in miracles! Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever! And I believe that if we faithfully proclaim the Good News and the Word of God, the Lord Himself will confirm it with signs following! Yet these signs are not the goal. The goal is Jesus! The goal is the manifest character of Jesus Christ within. It is Christ in me – the hope of glory. It is love that is shown from a pure heart, from a clear conscience, and from a sincere and authentic faith! Paul knew that preoccupation with anything else could lead to distractions that would keep us from the true goal.
- “Timothy, my child, I’m giving you this order about the prophecies that are still coming to you: Use these prophecies in faith and with a clear conscience to fight this noble war. Some have refused to let their faith guide their conscience and their faith has been destroyed like a wrecked ship. Among these people are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan in order to teach them not to dishonor God.” (1 Timothy 1:18-20 GW)
Lord, help me to avoid the pitfall of running after endless and useless pursuits that do not produce the transformational character of Jesus Christ in my life. Grant me the grace to press on to the high upward calling in Christ Jesus! May I hold fast to love, flowing from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and sincere faith!
- “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God—those whom he has called according to his plan. This is true because he already knew his people and had already appointed them to have the same form as the image of his Son. Therefore, his Son is the firstborn among many children.” (Romans 8:28-29 GW)
In Jesus Name!