Summary: Paul gives Timothy three building blocks we need to truly love one another with agape love.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
Here we are at that part of Sunday mornings where we start to look at our watches. We have enjoyed the music and singing portion of the service, standing or sitting as we lift our hearts to God. We heard about the happenings for the week and we dropped a little something in the offering plate. Now it’s time for us to listen to the preacher.
I assume you’re all properly prepared to listen today, aren’t you? You’ve been all week to hear what I have to say today, right? Got your Bibles out, your sermon note pages and a pen ready? Maybe, maybe not.
Let me ask: Did you take notice of what time I started this morning? How long are you prepared to listen? Why do you think we bother with a sermon in the first place?
You probably think I’m starting off a little odd this week, but let me give you a little insight into where my mind is starting off today. Each week I receive an email from Focus on the Family entitled, “The Pastor’s Weekly Briefing”. Here’s a tidbit from a recent edition:
"Nearly 100 percent of churchgoers look forward to sermons, but only 17 percent think preaching changes the way they live," according to a recent study from the CODEC Research Center at St. Johns College in Durham, U.K. The CODEC report, "The View from the Pew," is based on interviews with 193 Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists and Baptists from 16 different churches.
The research also discovered that:
• Many Anglicans wanted the sermon to last less than 10 minutes, but up to 20 minutes was fine if there was no "waffle."
• Baptists were happy to sit through a 75-minute sermon.
• Catholics wanted the sermon to be completed within 10 minutes.
• Sermons were seen as being very good at teaching about God, the Bible and "being comforting," but needed to do more to "motivate and challenge" people to look at the world differently.
• Sermons seem to encourage Christian reflection, but not Christian action.
• Nearly 17 percent felt sermons did actually change the way they lived.
The Purpose of Preaching
Why do we take the time to preach? The pattern seems to have been laid out for us:
• We are told by the writers of the Gospels that Jesus preached in the synagogues of Judea (Luke 4:44) and Galilee (Mark 1:39), in the Temple of Jerusalem (Luke 9:6), and even in His home in Capernaum (Mark 2:2).
• Jesus took the Twelve and sent them out preaching and healing after giving them power and authority (Luke 9:1-6).
• The book of Acts tells us how the disciples taught and preached Jesus Christ “every day, in the temple and from house to house” (5:42).
Paul reminds us that those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved, but only if they have someone to hear it from.
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
Pastors are not called to preach to show how intelligent they are, to prove themselves better than everyone else, or to point out the flaws of the people in the church. Paul told Timothy the reason for preaching.
As a young pastor I often turn to Paul’s letters to Timothy, looking for encouragement and instruction in how to conduct my ministry. So when I read this verse in my devotions a few weeks ago, I made the effort to meditate on it and deposit it in my heart. This is the purpose of preaching to the Body of Christ:
The purpose of our instruction, however, is love that rises out of a pure heart, a clear conscience, and undisguised faith.
1 Timothy 1:5 NBV
We preach, therefore, to encourage and build God’s people into people who love.
It’s not likely to be just a coincidence that God put this message on my heart with February getting started. Above any other time of year the next couple of weeks are associated with love. We are reminded how special it is to love and to be loved. Of course, that is only one definition of love.