Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. 1 Timothy 1:6 (NIV).
It’s a risky thing to take Bible verses out of context and dissect them on their own without considering the context around them…so we won’t do that. Yet this verse is also like its own proverb. It is advice on its own.
Years ago, I started this blog to meditate on the book of Proverbs while I was going through a time of repentance and healing. Eight years (and ten books) of exegesis and hermeneutics later, my tiny attempts to analyze the practical meaning of these Bible verses does, sometimes, turn to meaningless talk. In fact, it concerns me. More and more, I strive to avoid having this happen, trying to keep the focus only on Jesus. Sometimes I fail.
Yet when it happens, the thing to do is to turn back to God, ask for help, and jump back in. Why did Paul say this? What was the context for saying it? What does it mean to us now?
For this particular verse, we can’t lose sight of the fact that Paul was ministering to Timothy and telling him to be careful. To not get ‘wrapped around the axle’ with things that pull away from God (things like meaningless pedigrees and focusing on other than Jesus’ love). In this verse, he’s warning Timothy that there are good people who have turned away from that love (including pure hearts, good conscience, and sincere faith) and decided to cling to other things.
You know it still happens to us now. We get wrapped around things that distract us and pull us away. Anything can become our idol and try to pull us away from Jesus. Job, spouse/significant other, kids, sports, tasks, even the Bible itself: anything can supplant Jesus’ rightful role as the primary focus of our lives. It happens.
The way back always leads first to the Cross. “Lord, I’ve been wrong. Forgive me & help me.” Starting there helps us to identify our own meaningless talk & meaningless idols, then to turn from them. It helps us to see again that “He’s got this.” We are able to test what we think and do against God’s Word and adjust accordingly. Sometimes God speaks to our hearts through those distractions, and we shouldn’t be too quick to turn from change, or even things that can distract us, without checking in with Him first. Yet when we stray away from the straight and narrow, there’s always an exit ramp we can take that reminds us Jesus is actually there beside us, beckoning & guiding us back to His better Way. We get to be careful because we get to filter what we think & do through the filter of Jesus Christ.
That happens too.
For further reading: 1 Timothy 1:7
Lord, keep me between “Your lines.” Help me to avoid meaningless things and meaningless talk and act only as You would have me.