Bible Reading: 1 Timothy 1
Growing up, I got the nickname ‘Bro holiness’. The story behind it is funny but true. I was told that when I was still some months old, I wouldn’t allow just anybody cuddle me and I especially didn’t do well with kisses too. I would cry profusely when kissed and rub furiously at the spot I was kissed! It became an inside joke within the family that my aunts came up with the nickname ‘Bro holiness.’
You know, I wish I could end this story with “and the boy remained ‘bro holiness’ and they all lived happily ever after” … but no, life happened to “bro holiness.”
We hear a lot of about how kids demonstrate purity of heart, good conscience and sincere faith in things and people, but as they grow older, life happens and somehow, things get complicated.
In our text today, Paul is asking Timothy to teach the people in Ephesus to get back to these basics of a ‘pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith’. That charge is absolutely still applicable to us in these times we live in.
Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 1 Tim 1:5-6 (NKJV)
The words used in verse 6 are worthy of note: ‘having strayed’. I think most of us start with a clean slate from a tender age, or when we first gave our lives to Jesus, but as life happens, we begin to stray from this precious position in our hearts, mind and actions.
To keep anything from straying away from where it’s supposed to be, you need to anchor it.
I hope I can share with you three anchors that can halt that stray so we can get ourselves back in this position of a pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith that Paul admonishes:
- Pure Heart – Discover the power of vulnerability towards God
Our lives are before an all-knowing God. Nothing about us is hidden from him, but to really keep a pure heart, we must deliberately and consciously lay bare our heart to God. We must be vulnerable with Him. David’s heart is one that’s highly spoken of through scriptures and I believe it’s because He mastered vulnerability with God. His heart was open to God, even in his imperfections.
His prayer in Ps 139:23-24 captures this well:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Today, we’ve got the Holy Spirit, who constantly searches our hearts and nudges us into truth. He also reassures us of the forgiveness that we can receive-a clean slate because of the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus. Will you give the Holy Spirit that space to nudge on your heart today?
Simply saying to God, ‘I open up my heart to you’ is your one good way to put your heart in the direction of purity.
Practice a constant and deliberate exposure of your heart before God.
2. Good Conscience – God’s word, our moral compass
As the world gets worldlier by the day, the line between good and evil seems to be steadily blurring out. How then can we keep a good conscience in 2020?
More than anytime, we need to desperately seek and hold on to what Jesus says about the subjects that stare us in the face. I am really expectant about the new teaching series starting in church this Sunday: ‘Talking to the Talkers’. The truth is that we really need answers from God’s word that can serve as a compass to navigate the choices between good and evil in this present day world.
Many of us stray away from a good conscience because we get so used to analyzing, rationalizing and indulging evil, that we can’t even tell the difference between good and evil anymore! No matter the theories and excuses we spin, there is still something called God’s standard!
Can we live our lives in such a way that we can say as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1: 12:
We are proud of the fact that we have lived before the world and especially before you with clear consciences, living holy lives mixed with genuine sincerity before God. We have not relied on any human wisdom but on the grace and favor of God.
The greatest influence on your mind determines how well you can discern between good and evil. What is it going to be? God’s word or human thoughts and philosophies aka social media.
3. Sincere Faith – ‘I believe, help my unbelief’
Sincere faith reminds me of the absolute belief that kids have in their parents. They believe dad and mum are superheroes and they can do anything. Well, until their faith journey ends with the ‘I will buy you a bicycle’ promise that is never fulfilled.
As we go through life, we see that one more reason not to have faith and gradually, we stray away from sincere faith. Can I encourage you to get back that child heart that absolutely believes!
Sincere faith isn’t always sure and certain, but sincere faith knows to admit every doubt and call unto God for help in it: Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24
I encourage you not to stop fighting for a sincere faith even in the dark times and in the times when you do not understand, regardless of the reasons that you feel you have not to believe again.
God doesn’t get angry at us because our faith is little or clouded by many doubts. In fact, I think he probably anticipated our little faith, that’s why he says faith like a mustard seed will move a mountain. I think sometimes that mountain could even be our own unbelief. As we nurse our seeming little faith every day and decide to show up regardless of our questions and uncertainties, gradually the unbelief begins to roll away, and the mountain begins to move, and we come into more. This is growth; from faith to faith and as we keep at it, our assurance in God’s promises becomes strengthened.
There’s nothing disqualifying you today! Will you decide to draw near in faith- no matter how small yours is, because with God, sincerity is what brings us in and counts, not the size!
Something To Pray
God, create a pure heart in me, and make my spirit strong again Psalm 51:10 ERV
Pray today for the Holy Spirit to nudge you towards purity of heart, and a strong spirit of faith within you!
Ini serves as a Volunteer Leader at Sycamore