Trying to Keep the Discussion Healthy


1Tim. 1:3   I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, 4 and not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith. 5 But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith. 6 Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions.


The church is in its early stages of development and already there are heresies. The reality is that in every era there will be those who will challenge the faith and will provide alternatives. Ministers of the gospel are not to allow themselves to become sidetracked by this kind of thinking or teaching. Instead, they are to focus on the training which they have received and be willing to continue spreading the truth. 

It’s in the middle of all this that we find clarity of Timothy’s task. He is to be working toward the end product of holy love, which is the very character of God. This is nourished by way of purity, a good conscience, and faith. There will be times when there will be discussions but we must keep the end in mind. It is not about winning at a debate, but rather about promoting understanding and love. We can participate in sincere and openhearted conversation if it is based on love. 

Ignatius of Antioch wrote in his third letter to Polycarp: 

You must not be panic-stricken by those who have an air of credibility but who teach heresy. Stand your ground like an anvil under the hammer. A great athlete must suffer blows to conquer. And especially for God’s sake must we put up with everything, so that God will put up with us. Show more enthusiasm than you do. Mark the times. Be on the alert for him who is above time, the Timeless, the Unseen, the One who became visible for our sakes, who was beyond touch and passion, yet who for our sakes became subject to suffering and endured everything for us. (Letter to Polycarp 3)


All heresies come out of a vacuum of love. In other words, when brothers and sisters refuse to love one another heresy will develop, and generally the result of envy. Envy gives way to a desire for power, and it’s in this space that heresies are grown. Within an environment of those who love and respect one another it’s very difficult for this to occur. 

Therefore, we discover that a lack of love divides and leads to heresies. Any response to heresy must come from a heart of love with a desire for unity. This is exactly why Timothy is encouraged to have a “pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith.” In other words, before we can deal with the issues surrounding ourselves, we need to have our own hearts examined. We must seek the face of God, and ask God to work in us so that we may serve in righteousness. 

Self-righteousness leads to division. Christ-righteousness leads to holy love. The former will divide, the latter will unite. To keep a discussion healthy we need to first examine our own hearts and motivations. If the goal is not love and unity then our own self-interest is leading the way. 


Lord, it’s so easy for your people to get carried away by so much that is going on in our world. I pray that you would help me to listen to you, be driven by your love and righteousness and seek out unity within your family. By your grace may you lead us. Amen. 


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