1 TIMOTHY 1:5 – But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
THEME OF THE DAY. THE GOAL IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. There is a chapter in the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians often quoted in marriage ceremonies. It has found its way in quite a few ceremonies I officiated. It reads, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a). And not a few homes have some of these verses stuck on refrigerators or hanging in nice pictures on walls. Nothing wrong with either. This portion of “the love chapter” is beautiful, but there is a problem. We fail to remember the context.
Here is what leads up to the “marriage verses” and it isn’t good – If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). The church receiving this instruction, the Corinthians, were not being affirmed by the Apostle Paul for their love. Just the opposite. He writes as a condemnation because they lacked this love. And when it comes to the Christian life, it is so easy to fall into dull routines that cause us to “do” Christianity by mindless outward conduct and miss “really doing” Christianity by genuine acts of love from the heart.
Today’s scripture brings us back to the powerful simplicity of what it means to be a Christian and to live as a Christian – love. It does not matter how much service in the church we do; how many meetings we attend; how many hours we give reading our Bibles; and how effective we may think we are in our gifts and talents, all are worthless unless they pass the test of love from a pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith. So, let’s break them down.
First, the love that is acceptable before the Lord is one that is given by Him at new birth – a pure heart. The only way to a pure heart is by new birth. When God saves us, He gives us a new heart, and fills it with His love so that we may love – Him and people (Romans 5:1-5). Unless a person meets Christ and becomes a Christian, nothing done in His name and for Him matters. There is no love behind the action because the love that is acceptable is absent. We must receive it before we may live it. Next, the love that is acceptable before the Lord comes with the right motives – a clear conscience. Here is the real proving grounds of all we do – what motivates us? God’s glory and the good of people, or to be recognized by people and feel good about ourselves? Our conscience will tell us.
Finally, the love that is acceptable before the Lord is practiced by genuine belief and reliance upon Him and His Word – sincere faith. And the two characteristics of sincere faith are purposeful obedience to God’s Word and trust in His promises empowering us to obey.
So, the end goal in the Christian life is love – to God and people. Keep that before us every day, relying upon the God of all grace to help us live each day to that end.
PRAYER: “Father, help me to keep love – for You and all people – as the single goal guiding my walk with You.”
QUOTE: “Daily seek the Lord, not only to know Him, but to be reminded of His love so that we may live out His love.”