December 8 I Thursday
“The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” —1 Timothy 1:5
The miraculous change happening in the city of Ephesus through Paul’s ministry was so great that the idolatry industry began to be economically impacted. Ephesus was home to the temple Greek goddess Artemis, which was such an outstanding temple that it was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. People would travel to Ephesus just to see this magnificent structure.
Demetrius, one of the silversmiths whose occupation was to make idols of the Greek goddess Artemis, not only gathered the marketplace leaders, but stirred and rallied them by saying, “You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business….this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name…” (Acts 19:25-27). The riot was so intense that Paul was encouraged to leave Ephesus by other believers.
Yet, in Paul’s first letter to Timothy, Ephesus was the very place Paul was telling Timothy to remain and be a pastor. Paul writes, “To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (1 Timothy 1:2). Paul emphasizes in his greeting it is the grace, the peace and the mercy of God that goes with Timothy into the darkness. Paul tells Timothy, “…stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer…” (1 Timothy 1:3). Timothy was tasked with contending for the faith amongst the leadership of the church.
Paul points Timothy to how he is able to accomplish this almost impossible task: “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). The only way for Timothy to reach this difficult spiritual climate is to allow God’s love to flow through him and to cultivate love within the church again.
Jesus loves His church so much that even when she is in error and when she is straying into false teaching, He stays with her in the messy places. A comforting message we could gather is that God Himself does not abandon the difficult places of this world. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “God does not love some ideal person but rather human beings just as we are, not some ideal world but rather the real world.” May we approach this world with love, even when we face difficult people, places and circumstances, remembering love is our goal.
Prayer: Loving God, thank You that You never abandon the difficult places of this world but You seek to reach the lost. Help me to be a reflection of Your love to those around me. Praise You!