The heart condition of our teachers
Have you ever listened to someone giving a presentation or a training and realize that they don’t know what they’re talking about? How frustrating is it to recognize that they haven’t completely thought through the plan they are advocating…and, in fact, what they plan to implement will be detrimental or even harmful?
Unfortunately, this kind of thing can even happen in the church. Paul warned Timothy about fellow believers acted in this manner:
1 Timothy 1:5-7
Now the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. Some have deviated from these and turned aside to fruitless discussion.
They want to be teachers of the law, although they don’t understand what they are saying or what they are insisting on.
Why do they want to be teachers of the law? Given Paul’s comments, they were likely after the things that come with leading and teaching, namely status, popularity, and authority – all of which are easily self-focused and not God-focused. The goal of their instruction would be the promotion of themselves, which is the exact opposite of agape love. Instead of leading for the benefit of others, these wannabe leaders are focused on themselves.
If you replace the word ‘love’ with ‘self-focus’ you quickly realize that Paul’s statement becomes almost ridiculous:
Now the goal of our instruction is self-focus from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
Their self-focus betrays the true condition of their heart. Jesus similarly cautioned His disciples about inter-family relationships:
“A good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit; on the other hand, a bad tree doesn’t produce good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs aren’t gathered from thornbushes, or grapes picked from a bramble bush.
A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.”
Since these wannabe teachers in Ephesus have deviated from their pursuit of God via a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith, what comes out of their mouths isn’t agape love – it’s just fruitless discussion.
Later on, Paul tells Timothy that it is a good thing to desire a leadership position and that those in charge reap extra rewards from God. However, Paul will also caution against appointing someone before they are ready.
That’s the situation here – this group that want to be teachers has an incomplete knowledge base, an incorrect understanding, and as a result, they are focused on themselves. Because of all this, the logical conclusions of what they are insisting on is either harmful to others or contradicts what God actually meant.
After we believe in Jesus for eternal life, the early steps of Christian living are more focused on us “being” rather than us “doing”. God cares more about our character as a reflection of Him than He is about us doing “big things” for Him. After we have the foundation of a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith, the agape love pouring from that character will give us opportunities to lead – at church, at work, or in the home – and then we will produce good fruit.
However, without that character foundation, we are prone to self-centeredness, fruitless discussion, and teachings that misrepresent God.