God’s Heart Vs. Rules of Men

In Chapters 3 and 4, Paul writes to Timothy with instructions of leadership – in the church and in our lives. Women_Blog6_7He emphasizes a faith focused on the gospel and scripture, not on the many rules and teachings that are added to the simple, beautiful truth. In the beginning of Chapter 4, he tells Timothy that believers will be deceived and follow “professional liars” who instruct them to abstain from all kinds of things – teachings created by men, not God. He charges Timothy to follow “good doctrine” and “sound teaching” not “silly myths.”

“But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” ~ 1 Timothy 4:7 – 10  

He tells Timothy to “teach these things” and “practice these things.” I went back and read these chapters again to try to understand what specific things Paul refers to. In Chapter 4 we see these contrasts:

  • Demonic illusions (rules created by men) vs. Message of Faith (Jesus is our salvation)
  • Silly myths vs. The Living God
  • Spiritual flabbiness vs. Disciplined Life (love, faith, integrity, reading scripture, giving counsel, teaching)

In Chapter 3 Paul writes specifically about qualifications for leadership and servanthood in the church. Individuals who wish for these roles should be:

  • good reputation
  • committed to spouse
  • cool and collected
  • accessible
  • hospitable
  • not drink too much
  • not pushy
  • not thin-skinned
  • not money-hungry
  • handle own affairs well
  • attentive to own children
  • outsiders must think well of them
  • serious
  • dependable
  • not sharp-tongued
  • reverent before the mystery of faith

I love the practicality that Paul offers throughout this book – encouraging us to pursue character qualities that reflect the heart of God, without the religious practices he warned of (such as not eating certain foods or abstaining from marriage). Rather than have us jump through hoops or check off boxes, God wants to transform us.

“In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.” ~ 1 Timothy 4:6

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