“… stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer… The goal of this command is love…” (1 Timothy 1:3-5 NIV).
The Apostle Paul wrote the letters of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus to two young pastors he was mentoring. As a young pastor myself (well, let’s be honest, I’m pushing middle-aged pretty hard), I find Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus uniquely helpful. Reading them through the lens of a pastor who could benefit from a mentor like Paul, I am seeing a lot of things I have previously overlooked.
Much of what Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus is instruction about what they should be teaching the churches they pastored. And while the content of that teaching is certainly applicable still today, what struck me in the opening verses of the letter of 1 Timothy wasn’t the content, but the goal. Paul says he left Timothy in Ephesus so that Timothy could command people not to teach false doctrines. And then he says, “The goal of this command is love.”
As I read those words, they seemed to jump off the page and arrest my attention. I began to reflect on them, talking to the Lord about these words He had inspired Paul to write. The thought came to my mind that the primary goal of my teaching is not knowledge, but love. Paul also wrote these words:
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-2 NIV).
Love is the end goal. Knowledge without love is nothing. God has called me not merely to pass on knowledge, but to love you well through the teaching of God’s Word, and in so doing, to help you grow not in knowledge only, but in love–for the glory of Christ and the common good. My prayer for the week is that you will know God’s love and lead others to the same.