Monday, July 30, 2012

Love Comes First

Continuing the topic of my last post, these verses point out the purpose of spiritual discussions. God wants all believers to: 

be filled with love that comes from a pure heart 

have a clear conscience

have genuine faith

Meaningless discussions about spiritual matters are not just meaningless, they’re harmful. They are a waste of time and they don’t help anyone grow in faith.

I like theological discussions. I get passionate about some aspects of the truth. But I need to pause to consider why I’m in the discussion and stop if it is pointless. To defend the truth is good. To argue because I like to argue or to try to convince someone who won’t hear is harmful.

Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy to caution him about false teachers who just love to quibble over the meaning of words. There were specific issues that Paul addressed in the letter, but the principle about argument transcends those issues. Paul has some pretty scathing things to say about the false teachers. They talk with authority about things they don’t understand.

I like Paul’s approach, because it comes naturally to me. I tend to figuratively point my finger and yell, “Wrong!” But Paul’s objection is that these teachers try to sound like they know all about God’s ways but aren’t concerned about the people they’re pulling into their discussions. Instead of encouraging love, conscience and faith, they cause arguments, jealousy, division, slander, and suspicion among believers.

I need the reminder that the purpose of discussing the truth is to encourage and build up the others I’m talking with. It’s not to show that I’m right.

Or that I know about the Bible

Or that I’ve read a lot of books

Or that I have incredible insight

Yes, Paul tells Timothy to guard the truth God has entrusted to him. But he also tells him to avoid pointless discussions with argumentative people and their so-called knowledge. The whole point of talking about the truth is to help people live a life of faith in God and be filled with love.

Love comes first.

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