Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 6:2-21, Psalm 90:1-17, Matthew 27:11-14
I have the gift of always ordering the right thing off the menu. Most of the time, I just look at my husband and ask, “Do you just want me to order for us?” (In truth, it’s more of a statement, than a question.) And 99% of the time, I end up with the best dish.
But that other 1% of the time, I end up disappointed and usually blame what I consider to be an erroneous menu description, perhaps one that highlighted the wrong ingredient. Or maybe I’d assumed that something would be roasted and instead is raw—that sort of thing.
When reality doesn’t measure up to our expectations (whether it’s a movie we’ve been wanting to see, a meal at a fancy restaurant, or a blossoming relationship), it can be devastating. Paul is warning the church at Ephesus about this very thing: false teaching leads to bad fruit. And he is calling on Timothy to guard the truth, the legacy of the faith.
Paul chides those who claim to speak the gospel but believe that “godliness is a way to material gain” (1 Timothy 6:5). He lists signposts of their wayward focus: envy, quarreling, slander, evil suspicions, constant disagreement. He warns Timothy, but then he takes it a step further.
Paul’s warning is not passive. This passage is full of strong action words that charge Timothy and his congregation with the weighty responsibility of representing the faith. John MacArthur wrote that this passage outlines what a man of God should be known for—“by what he flees from, follows after, fights for, and is faithful to.”
And what is the north star for this calling, for our calling as Christians? What is the standard to which we should evaluate the things, people, and ideas we flee from, follow, fight for, and are faithful to? What tells us what we should guard? Scripture, that’s what.
When Paul uses the word “guard” in verse 20, he uses the Greek word phylassō, which appears approximately 30 times throughout the Bible. Jesus used it when He said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28).
We represent the Word of God. We image God Himself. We are mirrors, reflecting the beauty of Christ out into the world. And Paul dares us to do so with integrity to the faith as written in the Holy Word.
In a sermon on this passage, Ligon Duncan said:
“Paul calls on Timothy and his congregation, and us, to retain the truth, to hold fast to it; to refrain from dabbling in worldly speculation and false teaching; to realize that false teaching will lead sheep over the edge into destruction; and to be utterly dependent, as we hold fast to that truth, on the only thing that can hold us up, which is the grace of God.”
Thanks be to God that we have such a steadfast anchor in the person of Christ and in the Word. And in a world marked by postmodernism, swaying between “your truth” and “my truth” and, so often, no truth at all, I pray that we will lean on the Father’s grace as we guard the heritage of our faith.
Melanie Rainer is a bookworm from birth who makes her days writing, editing and reading in Nashville, where she also joyfully serves as the editor of Kids Read Truth. She has an M.A. in Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary, spends as much time as she can in the kitchen, and can’t wait until her two daughters are old enough to read Anne of Green Gables.