Passage: 1 Timothy 1:3-7

Speaker: Steve Hands

Series: Truth Over Spin

Truth-Formed Love

            Truth + Love = Change. Without love, truth can feel condemning and shaming. Without truth, love feels indulgent. But when truth is spoken in relationships of love, lasting change happens. During Paul’s ministry planting churches, he preached the truth of the gospel. Yet even the best ideas, even God’s ideas and purposes for the world, take time to bear fruit. So even when Paul has to go to Macedonia, he urges Timothy to “remain at Ephesus” (1 Tim 1:3). Prolonged relationships of love are needed to communicate the truth. As false teaching ran rampant, sustained relationship was needed. Just as it took time for Paul to establish Timothy as a true child in the faith (1 Tim 1:2), so it will take time for Timothy to establish the church at Ephesus as a true church in the faith. In the process Timothy must confront the spin of false teaching. Similarly today false teaching runs rampant in so many ways. In 1 Tim 1:3–7, we see that while spin fuels speculation, truth fuels stewardship and forms love.

            First, spin fuels speculation (1 Tim 1:3–4, 6–7). Paul charges Timothy to remain in Ephesus to charge certain people to stop devoting themselves to “myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations” (1:3). By tickling curiosities without satisfying understanding, spin makes us spin our wheels. Ultimately such idle speculation causes people to wander into vain discussionwithout understanding (1:6, 7). Today purveyors of such spin have multiplied; not limited to media outlets, anybody with a social media account can pronounce themself an expert. Whether mindlessly surfing news stories or social media news feeds, I find myself spinning my wheels as a result without getting traction. We need to find another way.

            Instead of idle speculation, truth fuels stewardship (1 Tim 1:3–4). Spin promotes speculations, while the truth of the gospel promises the stewardship from God that is by faith” (1:4). This word, stewardship, expresses Gods purpose of salvation of the cosmic by the powers of heaven transforming the realities of earth (cf. Eph 1:10; 3:9). The truth of right doctrine fuels and propels the stewardship and implementation of God’s glorious plan of salvation. This stewardship is by faith; by faith we apprehend the powers of heaven to transform the problems of earth. As a result, the effects of truth can be seen in the powerful transformation of realities through faith. At the same time the order of heaven transforms the disorder and chaos of earth. As a result God’s order and purposes are established in the family as a microcosm of the church, which also is a microcosm of God’s purposes for the world. Paul pays attention to family and church relationships in 1 Timothy because he is concerned for God’s purposes in the world.

            Truth not only fuels stewardship but also forms love (1 Tim 3:5). The aim of right doctrine is not simply knowledge, but the aim of our charge is love. When we believe rightly, we live rightly in love. Those who claim to believe rightly but live in bitterness and resentment show by their lives that they fail to believe rightly. True doctrine forms love. How does doctrine form love? By faith our mind believes in the truth, with a good conscience, our will chooses to live by the truth, and with a pure heart, our emotions delight in the truth. Only as our mind, will, and emotions work together can we truly love.

            So what fruit do your ideas and doctrine show? If you find yourself spinning your wheels debating or pontificating ideas without working for concrete change in the world, perhaps you have embraced spin. Sources of spin are plentiful today. Yet we must engage with truth in such a way that it fuels our stewardship of God’s purposes and power of heaven to change earth as well as forming a heart of love. What do your ideas fuel? May stewardship and love be the fruit of our lives.