The Three Pillars

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 1 Timothy‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Simple, right? However, the three things Paul’s laid out here are few in number but daunting in practice.

A pure heart means the removal of self from an endeavor. When’s the last time any of us were able to say we did anything charitable from a purely selfless motive? It’s an achievement I’ve rarely experienced but hope to ascend to in practice.

To love from a good conscience implies the person giving it has no knowledge of evil. It’s hard to think of myself as evil. I know because of Jesus’ sacrifice, I’m now viewed as a friend of God rather than an enemy. However, knowing my works should now be reflective of my faith, it would be hard to think of a day when all my actions (in thought or deed) were squeaky clean.

The last one may be the Holy Grail in this grouping. Most of us would be quick to admit to faith. But what about a sincere faith?   It was helpful for me to reflect on the definition of sincerity.

  • the quality of being free from pretense, deceit, or hypocrisy.

Pretense alludes (again) to no hidden motives. Deceit means trying to intentionally pull the wool over someone’s eyes. Hypocrisy is not practicing what we preach. If that’s what sincere faith looks like, it would be super hard to just flippantly agree all of us were living up to that standard.

Paul’s intent in this letter is to mentor Timothy by encouraging him to draw the folks at Ephesus back to what he feels is our core message. This is a common theme in a lot of Paul’s letters. “Remember what I told you. Don’t try to add or subtract anything from the gospel. Just put it into practice. Lather, rinse, repeat.” (paraphrased)

Paul was a great teacher because as gifted as he was intellectually, he was able to pass on his knowledge in a way people could both understand and hopefully, reproduce. Inspiration and perspiration required.

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