Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith. Grace be with you. (1 Timothy 6:20-21)
[Dear Morning Devotion Group – Today we conclude our study of 1 Timothy. Thank you for taking the journey with me and for allowing me to take a slight side-road into Mark to coincide with my sermon series at Northside. We will begin a new book and a new study tomorrow. Blessings, Larry Jones]
Years ago I was working on a church process that reflected some business models that were popular at the time. Perhaps you remember when our culture first started talking about “empowerment.” For years churches and organizations practiced a committee structure where most of the power rested at the top, and directives were passed down through the system. Titles were very important because they indicated where people were in the process. But then someone came up with the concept of “empowering” people and giving them latitude to be creative in accomplishing a given mission. Committees became teams and directives were replaced with collaboration. Mountains of books were written to help leaders adjust to this shift in thinking, and mission statements and core values were developed to help everyone understand the common goal.
I personally think, for the most part, this was a healthy shift in our thinking, and it was also good for the church to begin functioning as people were functioning in other areas of their lives. On the other hand, any time a major shift in thinking comes along (or a shift in Paradigm, which was also a catchword of the era I am describing), a lot of energy is spent promoting the next best thing, and people build entire cultures and empires around simple ideas. Before long, it is all anyone can talk about, and our knowledge of the concepts and nomenclature of the time is how we define our identity and feed our self-esteem.
Why am I giving this history lesson? Because in the midst of this season in history I was explaining a new “empowered” team I was putting together to an elderly member of our church family. I was waxing eloquent on the subject of mission statements, core values and collaboration. And when I was finished, the member looked me square in the eyes and she said, “Well…I always say, if you want something done right, you need to do it yourself.”
And for all of my knowledge of the “new way” I had to admit to myself her “old way”, which she expressed in a single truth, was just as valid. I was reminded how puffed up we can become when we think we have cornered a secret to success.
The same thing happens in our pursuit of spiritual truth. Lots of “chatter” doesn’t necessarily indicate the promotion of truth, and in fact, we can easily wander away from the faith when we lose sight of the distinction between the “godly” and “godless.”
I am all for acquiring knowledge. In fact, one of my guiding principles in life is to keep learning and growing. But one of the things we learn as we grow is the nature of true “knowledge”. Knowledge comes from God, and human knowledge that contradicts His wisdom is suspect at best. Keep learning! But guard what has been entrusted to your care. “Grace be to you.”
Dear God, guard my heart and mind. In Jesus’ name, Amen.