1 TIMOTHY 1:3-7 COMMANDED IN LOVE TO LOVE
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
In the realm of human discourse and understanding there is a place for speculation. It is good to be able to look at the world around us and make testable theories on how things work. Through the exercise of intellectual trial and error we learn greater lessons about the function of our physical environment that just the mechanics of the specific aspect being studied. This also leads to intellectual growth through the opportunity to debate and test various theories in order to find the best explanation.
Where speculation is counter productive is in the area of the “givens” of life. For the earth-bound inhabitants of this world, it is a waste of time and effort to speculate on natural physical laws like gravity. Likewise, speculation on God’s revelation of his nature and will leads not to knowing God better but to reimaging God according to our understanding. Such an exercise will result in different schools of “thought” about God and the need for the proponents of each to compete for universal acceptance. This then leads to division and animosity. In contrast the Truth is a unity, and therefore, can lead to nothing but unity among believers.
Historically, in our desire to root out false teaching, we forget that part of the revealed truth is love, that is, God’s steadfast grace and mercy extended toward his creatures. As St. Paul writes to Timothy: The goal of this command is love. Being made in his image we need to remember that such love must undergird even our dealings with false teachers. We are to correct them, not primarily to maintain our purity as individuals or the church, but for their eternal well-being. Our mission is to live lives that demonstrate God’s nature to the world; a God who loves us so much that he was willing to die for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8).
Father, give me your heart when I am confronted by false teaching. Help me to separate the teaching from the teacher. Keep me from trying to love the teacher by accepting his teaching or rejecting the teaching by hating the teacher. May even this aspect of my life be a witness to the Truth that is you. Amen.