A few weeks ago I was reading the liturgy for the day, and the NT reading came from Paul’s first letter to Timothy, the first chapter. I was so taken with it! For the past five years or so, I have immersed myself in the four gospel accounts, and it has been richly fulfilling and needed. Therefore, reading Paul again was fresh to me. And this letter to his guy Timothy resonated with me deeply and immediately.
Here’s verses three and four from the New Living Translation which really struck me:
When I left for Macedonia, I urged you to stay there in Ephesus and stop those whose teaching is contrary to truth. Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.
In this age of information overload, I am so often bombarded, it feels, with invitations to meaningless discussions. As my daughter Gabriela says, “It’s driving me to the nuts!” I can’t do it. Life is too short. There’s too much meaning in the universe to take the time to talk about ridiculosity that does not lead to love, to God.
I like how one commentary on I Timothy states, “The danger seems at first a simple one: wasting time. Avoid godless chatter, he says, and focus on the really important things, such as the gospel of Jesus Christ…What exactly is ‘godless chatter?’…Godless chatter is talk that doesn’t have as either its content or goal the promotion of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In other words, what Paul is recommending is that our talk be ‘partisan’ in the best sense of the word–that we never waste time in simple critique of false teaching, critique that doesn’t go anywhere. No, Paul wants us always to talk in terms of the gospel.”
So with regard to talk of a spiritual nature, let’s make sure it has a point, and that that point is the gospel of Jesus Christ, of living a life of faith, the promotion of love, of God Himself. If you wanna talk baseball stats, I can talk all day long. No rules, no worries there. But if we’re gonna talk religion on any level, I’m gonna hold you to gospel purity.
I’ve had a friend who likes very much to criticize the same Christian author over and over, year after year. Stop. Enough. It’s pointless. It’s boring.Yawn fest. Who cares? Not this guy. Or some I know at the gym and elsewhere who love to go off politically. Let me tell you something, you do that with me and I will always ask you two things: 1) How’s your prayer life, and how much are you praying for these politicians you love to slam? and 2) What do you feel God is personally calling you to politically? In other words, what is God calling you to do about what you’re complaining about, because I have a sneaky suspicion that it’s not to complain about it.
Pray and do something.
Ok, that’s enough for today. I may spend some time over the next weeks unpacking some of I Timothy because I love doing that, and there’s much to glean and understand from this letter.