A Morbid Craving



Scripture:

1 Timothy 6:2b-5

Teach and urge these duties. Whoever teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that is in accordance with godliness, is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words. From these come envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among those who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

Observation:

Controversy seemed to be quite an issue in Ephesus where Timothy was pastoring. One can only imagine that he was attempting to preach from the words of Jesus Christ but there were those who are making it nearly impossible. Instead of agreeing with the preaching, they were arguing about every word that was spoken, challenging every phrase to the point that Timothy was unable to preach the truth. He couldn't even finish a thought before someone was raising a point of order. 

The problem with this kind of behavior was that it reflected the heart of the individuals creating the controversy. In some way they were pretending to want to know the whole truth, when in reality they were craving attention. Self-centeredness and conceit are revealed because these individuals have “a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words.” It all becomes a distraction from the truth and the word that Timothy ought to be preaching. The challenge of words creates controversy, and from these come “envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling;” all couched in a super-spirituality of “clarity.” 

Timothy is not to be fooled, for this is not the way in which those who follow Christ are to behave. Instead, these people  have joined with the Christians thinking that there would be some kind of personal, or financial gain to be achieved. Confronted with servant leadership they are extremely disappointed, for ministry is not about gain, but about giving oneself up for the sake of others. 

Application:

The morbid craving eventually leads to spiritual death. Fighting and arguing are never life-giving. Jesus refused to be drawn into baseless discussions, but always found a way to make his point through the telling of parables. It left those wanting to argue about words speechless. Sometimes it also left them angry because they knew he was talking about them.

I confess that there are times when I am tempted to become picky about things. Usually it’s when I’m tired, frustrated, or feel like I’m not being heard. Let’s try to exercise pastoral patience with an individual who may be exhibiting these behaviors out of character. It may be a sign that there is more happening in their lives and they need pastoral care. It’s important to learn to read those around us and sense what is driving their behavior. 

At the same time, if we continue to be picky and angry without facing the real issues in our lives, we will become very miserable people. If anyone becomes engaged in church work because they think they will become rich, they will also eventually be frustrated. Sadly, they may ruin a few lives along the way with their personal extravagance and manipulation of the word. 

It’s surprising that all of this was happening when the church was so young, and seems to still be a problem today. The problem is unsanctified humanity who participate in the life of the church, but refuse to be crucified with Christ. The deeper walk with Jesus Christ makes us look at ourselves in the mirror and there we often discover that we are the cause of our own problems. The craving for arguments is morbid because it leads to death — your own death. It brings you to spiritual death because the arguments choke out all possibility for new growth. 

Prayer:


May the God of life breathe freshness into our lives today, bringing a springtime of new growth. Amen 

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