“Remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions… Wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.” 1 Timothy 1:3-7,18-19
Ephesus was a remarkable city, and it was a heady position to be a teacher, to be known as an authority in a place adorned with intellectualism and the elevation of man. Paul, an intellect himself, understood this warfare of minds, and instructed Timothy as he led the new church there to keep the main thing the main thing: ‘We live by faith, not sight, and not argument. Be a steward of eternal, unshakable truth, and don’t get sucked into speculations and endless talk based on supposition, hearsay, myths.’ The more we pontificate about things we do not fully understand, the greater grows our affection for the sound of our own voice. Vanity begins to trump earnest searching and discovery, knowledge puffs up and overshadows faith and love, and we lead ourselves and others astray. (1 Corinthians 8:1; 13:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:7)
There is much information available to us today by way of genetic testing and ancestry discovery, along with an endless internet supply of ‘expert’ opinions on medical conditions, diets, education, how-to-do-whatever, spirituality, preparing for retirement. We can turn, almost subconsciously, to what we like to hear, or enjoy talking about, without consulting the Author of truth and filtering all we listen to, discuss, and decide through the lens of our faith. Paul admonishes Timothy to be a worthy and diligent steward of the faith given him, and to adorn himself with love and purity that are the hallmarks of Christians, intellectual and not. His high calling, in whatever relationship or conversation, was to keep faith and keep his head, a responsibility vital in the healthy building of this young congregation. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
What attracts me to doctrines of man rather than the doctrines of God? What I watch, do, read, listen to? How I feel? Are there places and people who set my soul adrift or my tongue loose, and how am I preparing for those interactions so I can meet them in confidence, faith, trustworthiness? How lovingly do I steer conversation away from meaningless in the direction of significant, eternal things?
Father, attune my mind to Yours, fix me in the grace and truth of Your gospel so I never forget what You have entrusted to me. Keep me grounded so I do not sway into empty, fruitless thinking and vain discussions. May I engage in this world with confident faith and Your heart for all I encounter.