Teach Truth in Love
Open Your Bible
1 Timothy 1:1-11, Deuteronomy 6:1-8, Romans 10:1-13
BY Jessica Lamb
My maiden name was regularly mistaken for a similarly spelled, but distinctly different, last name. People confused the two enough that my father, brother, and I often answered to the wrong name without much thought. My mother, though, never let the wrong name slide. She’d politely smile and correct every person, sometimes more than once, who added an unnecessary “r” to the pronunciation of our last name. Though it was only part of her name by marriage, she fiercely defended its integrity.
What remains fascinating to me about this common mistake is how often people disagreed with her correction, telling her the way they misunderstood our name was, in fact, more accurate. It was as if their opinion of what our last name ought to be was more important than what our name truly is. Persistent as they were, they could not change the truth.
The fight for preserving what is true is at the heart of today’s reading, and of 1 Timothy as a whole. Paul wrote to Timothy, his coworker and protégé, to encourage him to guard the heritage of the Christian faith—a faith that was being challenged by false teaching and a skewed understanding of what it meant to be a follower of Jesus.
In Acts 16, we catch a glimpse of how Paul’s mentorship of Timothy began. Timothy left his family to travel with Paul on his second missionary journey, sharing the gospel and establishing the early Church. He became one of Paul’s most trusted disciples and coworkers, ministering alongside Paul as he wrote much of the New Testament. Paul wrote this first letter to Timothy while the younger man was serving as pastor to the church in Ephesus.
We see the depth of their relationship in how Paul addresses Timothy. More than just a coworker, Timothy is Paul’s “true son in the faith” (1Timothy 1:2). That affectionate reference is, in part, a reminder to Timothy that he, and all believers, are part of a spiritual heritage. When we come to faith in Jesus, we become part of the family of God (1John 3:1–2). In this family, part of our ministry is to guard the lineage of our faith by remembering what it means to be a believer and then passing those truths down to future generations.
The believers Timothy pastored were distracted by empty speculations and false doctrine. We have to guard against the same—whether in our own hearts, in our own conversations, or in how we teach others about our faith through our words and actions.
God Himself is the best authority on our faith. His Word isn’t a list of meaningless rules; it is light in the darkness, a lamp that shows us where to place our feet as we live lives faithful and true to the heritage of the gospel. When we keep our focus on growing in affection for God and His Word, we stay true to our pursuit of love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.