1 Timothy – Love from a pure heart
“The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5
Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus to curb the voices of false teachers that were springing up from within and without. In doing so the Apostle began to create some structure for the young churches, especially regarding the character of the leaders their ministry priorities.
Pauls goal for the churches, what he calls 'the purpose' of all his instruction, is that each Christian be filled with love.
Love is a natural by-product of knowing God and being created in His image. The very essence of God is love, and we can love God only because He first loved us. So being created in the image of God means, inherently, being created as loving beings. Love is the core of our humanity.
When sin entered the world, and death through sin, this loving core, that is the image of God, became tarnished as selfishness and survival take the lead very early in life. But the image of God is still there, you can see it in a baby’s eye’s, the light, the joy, the love for her mother, the wonder of discovery.
Babies have exactly what Paul says here is the whole purpose of his teaching: they are full of love which comes from “a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.” And they didn’t learn it, it is built-in to their humanity.
Jesus said that it is exactly this childlikeness that identifies each person in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 19:14). He was very literally talking about real children because when He said this to His disciples there were actual toddlers and kids clamoring for His attention, and He loved it. The little ones display what Jesus desires in all of us.
We might be surprised on the Day of the Lord to see the number of little ones, the weak and simple, people who didn’t have a voice in this world or who didn’t make it very long for whatever reason, leading the rest of us to the heart of God. He did say, you recall, that “A little child will lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)
Timothy had traveled with Paul, been sent a variety of places with great responsibility, or left behind with important, foundational, things to teach or set in place, and Paul trusted him like no other. He was probably, at the same time, not one who necessarily looked the part or was comfortable with being in leadership. It seems as though he was very shy, possibly sickly, or prone to weakness, and Paul advises him to take care of himself physically and to remember that God had given him spiritual gifts to offset what he perceived that he might lack to do his job well.
Paul didn’t say, “look for people just like yourself,” but maybe he could have. For Timothy, even though he was younger than the others, seemed to be leading the church, not because of talent, skill or education, but because of his conduct and character, the things that really matter.
Dear one, I imagine that, like Paul, you sometimes consider yourself “the chief of sinners” (1:15), I sure do. And we feel like the purity of a child, the love, pure heart, clear conscience, and genuine faith, we see in little ones, has long passed us by. Our hearts are well-intentioned, but they are also scarred and pitted, with little crevices of darkness that harbor vice and things we are not so proud of.
First, repent from the leftover junk in your life. Then, receive God’s mercy (1:16), and give Him honor and glory for doing in you what you could never do on your own, (1:17). Then, “Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.” (4:16).
Serve with love from a pure heart, in Jesus name, and for His glory.