“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith.The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk.They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” (1 Tim. 1:3-7, NIV; emphasis added).
As the Holy Spirit has been teaching me about love these past few weeks, I have realized that, when commanding others not to teach false doctrine, the GOAL must always be LOVE. For me, I think the goal often ends up being the command itself – simply getting my point across – and I find the “means” becoming the “end”. That’s where lovelessness creeps in and I discover that I am “ordering others to do what they ought to do” rather than “appealing to them on the basis of love” (Philemon vs. 8-9). I am not saying that there is never a time and a place for such a demand, for Paul says to Philemon, “…in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought” (Philemon vs. 8); yet, Paul chooses “the most excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31) by appealing to Philemon in a loving way. In doing so, Paul shows that he is “considering how he may spur others on towards love and good deeds” (adapted from Hebrews 10:24) and that he truly understands what it means to, “above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
I want to love like this – in a way that addresses and faces the sins of others, while simultaneously covering their sins – just like Jesus confronts and covers my sin.