Practical Proverbial, from 2 Timothy, 25 April 2019

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.  2 Timothy 2:16 (NIV).

Sorry ahead of time:  another rant.   I get into many debates online, standing up for what I believe in (just as those who are on the opposite side do the same).   I wish I could get back the countless hours and words I’ve expended online because I don’t think it has made much of a difference.   It’s a good thing to let others know that you support them, that they have allies.   Beyond that, I don’t see how my debating done much good.   Indeed, I’m ashamed of many things I’ve said; many words were unkind at best, contrary to this faith I profess here.   Hypocrisy:   I’m guilty.   Here endeth this rant as well.

We spend so much of our time these days talking about things that don’t really matter.   Our news is comprised of celebrities, meaningless sports, banal entertainment, and opinions disguised as facts.   Even worse, we gossip online; what else is social media but a new way of saying “look at me” or “did you hear about so & so?”  Even worse still, we thrive on ‘the chew’ in person.   Don’t believe me?   Try breaking into a clique the next time you go to church.  They’re there, just as exclusive as any schoolyard clique.   And they talk.   Boy do they talk!   I mean…boy, do WE talk!

Welcome to the fallen world.   It’s a world of godless chatter, of ancient tendencies and mis-behaviors given new life in person and online.   The more we indulge in it, the more we sully the good words of Jesus, who is still alive in us, who rose and is still King of Kings, here in the fallen world.   The more we do it, the more ungodly we become.   We become hypocrites.

Paul’s advice?   Avoid it.   Stop it if it starts with us, or passes through us.   But if we can’t effect it for good, then avoid it.   Stop the gossip chain with you, or me.   Gory TV?   Switch channels.   Political arguing?   Back out of it.   Better yet, pray for the other guy, and their candidate, and for our overall peace.   Part of a clique?   Go introduce yourself to the new guy.   Maybe give him a cup of that free church coffee and a donut.

It was good advice in the time of Paul, when true persecution really happened quite often.   It’s good advice here in the land of plenty, where we’re far from that kind of physical persecution…at least for now.  Let that be on our list of things to do in our fallen world now that winter has come (and gone), and we’re in a fresh season of growing.

For further reading: 1 Timothy 1:20, 2 Timothy 2:17.

Lord, help me to avoid godless chatter, changing my ways for Your good purpose.   Forgive me the ways I’ve failed You.

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Practical Proverbial, from 1 Timothy, 6 February 2019

These are the things you are to teach and insist on. If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.  1 Timothy 6:2-5 (NIV).

True confession time:  I fail at this.   Paul could be talking about me.  I like to debate, I like to discuss things.   Mostly it’s because I love to learn, even from those with whom I disagree.  Yet that sometimes devolves into arguments, especially online.  I sometimes don’t know when to let up.  I may be getting better at holding my tongue, but that isn’t God’s standard.   His standard is “love your neighbor as yourself after you love Me first.”

To be honest, arguing online about politics, religion, and other topics of similar small stature isn’t godly teaching.

Paul reminds Timothy that the things he has said in this letter are godly teaching.  It’s not just from Paul:  it’s the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, revealed to Paul and shared here.   He reminds Timothy that not everyone will heed this teaching.   He reminds us of the same thing, and that seems even more apparent in the age of social media and world-wide internet.  Finally, Paul reminds both Timothy and us that there is no such thing as the Gospel of Jesus that will make you rich.   The so-called ‘prosperity gospel’ is no good news at all.   And it isn’t godly.

And that’s where I come back to admit, again, that I fail at these things.   My actions don’t measure up well against Paul’s admonitions, and my failings as a Christian are ungodly words and deeds that bring discredit on my Savior.

How about you?  If Jesus came back today, could you (or I) stand before Him and say “yep, Lord, I followed You in everything I said and did?”  I couldn’t say that; I doubt you could either.   We’re broken.  Paul’s words convict us because they’re true.

Yet we can’t leave it there.   When we confess these things to Jesus, He is always forgiving.  He heals the broken us.  He always reminds us “I paid for it.   I did everything that was needed.   You can let it go now; I’ve got this.”  Instead of constantly re-regretting the ungodly sins we confess, we are free to move forward.  THAT godly teaching is the foundation of everything Paul says.  That teaching turns our confessions of ungodly things into knowledge that will help us live forever.

For further reading: 2 Timothy 3:4&8, Titus 1:15, 1 Timothy 6:6.

Amazing Lord, You are holy.   I’m not.   Thank You for Your forgiveness, and help me to always remember it – and share it – today.