Scripture Passage: 1 Timothy 6:3-21 based on the LCMS Daily Lectionary for September 24
Meditation: Paul instructs his protégé, Timothy, “Teach and exhort these things. If anyone teaches a different doctrine, and doesn’t consent to sound words, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is conceited, knowing nothing, but obsessed with arguments, disputes, and word battles, from which come envy, strife, insulting, evil suspicions, constant friction of people of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. Withdraw yourself from such” (2b-5).
These may sound like harsh words to us! In our day, it seems that doctrine, when it is taught and discussed, comes under the influence of mere sentimentality than substance. Oftentimes, true doctrine quickly gives way to our sincerity about an issue, and feelings determine truth. True truth, and those who believe in truth, takes an absolute beating in our current cultural milieu. Yet, the Apostle Paul speaks clearly to Timothy and to us today.
Interestingly, “argument, disputes, and word battles” reveal something significant about those, who teach a different doctrine. The surprise and offense of Paul’s words may shock those fond of doctrinal controversy back into reality. He says, “[H]e is conceited, knowing nothing.” So, Paul says two things about them, neither of which is very flattering, they are prideful and ignorant! What a horrible combination!!!
Once they this is revealed, then what? What is to be done about it? Specifically, how is Timothy, and us, to respond to those who do this? First, Paul tells us to “withdraw yourself from such.” Don’t have anything to do with them! Remember, these people are within the church and claim to be Christians. He is not telling us to have nothing to do with unbelievers, but with these false believers.
He goes one to say, “Timothy, guard that which is committed to you, turning away from the empty chatter and oppositions of what is falsely called knowledge; which some profess, and thus have wandered from the faith” (6:20-21). How are we to respond? Paul adds a couple more ways. Second, guard the Christian faith. Based in Scripture and history (such as the ecumenical creeds), we possess a treasure chest filled with the jewels of the Christian faith. Guard those treasures!
Third, turn away from this “empty chatter” and “false knowledge.” We can quickly get caught up in these “arguments, disputes, word battles,” which Paul calls, “empty chatter” and “false knowledge.” Turn away from it! If there are those, who claim to be Christians, and all they want to do is argue about these things, and will not receive proper instruction, then turn away from them! Don’t waste your time! Consider them unbelievers, and simply, but persistently, point them to the saving work of Jesus Christ.
Living the Word Today seeks to provide brief devotional thoughts for daily living from a passage of Scripture. It is not meant to be academic exegesis, but a humble attempt to listen to God’s voice through His written Word.
Sources: All Scripture quotes are from The World English Bible. The World English Bible is in the Public Domain. That means that it is not copyrighted. However, “World English Bible” is a Trademark.