Paul’s wise instructions to Timothy become more captivating to me the older I get. Maybe it’s because I am more open in these latter years to wise instruction and realize the shortcomings of my great learning and keen intellect (chuckle). God was so wise to inspire Paul by the Holy Spirit, to give such wise instruction that is not bound by time, history or culture because it speaks to the very nature of humanity and God’s tireless work to restore in us His lost image.
There are literally hundreds of examples I could reference, but the one that really speaks to me today is around the human behavior of tolerance, or intolerance if you prefer, around doctrine.
1 Timothy 4:16, Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Why is God so concerned with doctrine? Christians in the West love and often feel entitled to a cafeteria plan where we choose what fits us. There is a growing cultural pressure around being tolerant to many deserving social issues, but at the same time there is an inaudible (almost secret) move among some believers to actually embrace and perpetuate intolerance. And most often it is a move that invokes intolerance of those in the church who maintain a historic and orthodox position on Christian doctrine. Within the Body of Christ, there is no place for hatred based on race, sexual orientation, theology or anything else. Yet we continually see those who hold to the historic heritage of their faith and denomination vilified, often by their own as schismatics, and worse when they continue to embrace what they believe is vital to the life and doctrine of God’s Holy Church. Lord, forgive us for such behavior!
It is a behavior and an intolerance that is perplexing to those of us who are in Christ but worse, it is a real turn off for those who are yet unconvinced of God’s great love for them who look from the outside in at the church and ask, “So this is love?” The church’s witness is being compromised by the way we treat others in the family of God. May God’s grace, love and power lead us to treat one another in such a way that God would be honored, pleased, and blessed. Love God and Love People. Amen.