I used to be a big fan of country music. It’s not as much a part of my life anymore since most of it isn’t particularly edifying and because I use my driving time for Scripture review now. But I did recall a lyric from a random song when mulling over thoughts for this post. “You don’t have to guess what I’m against/If you know what I’m for” – thanks, Pat Green!
Obviously it’s a bit simplistic, but it stood out to me since that’s one thing I’m learning from Paul’s letters to Timothy and from other parts of Scripture. In order to be able to identify and avoid what’s false and evil, I have to devote myself to what’s true and good. This begins in my thought life and consequently plays itself out in actions and the words I speak. Paul gives this exhortation in his letter to the Philippians:
“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8
As I’ve written before, there’s always a lot of conviction over sin, repentance, and striving for growth with each book I memorize. When I started the letters to Timothy I was aware that internet outrage culture wasn’t good in general and definitely wasn’t healthy for me, but I still frequented Twitter far too often. It’s a lamentable reality that even among professing Christians social media is populated with bully pulpits ranting about a myriad of issues. James might well rebuke us if he read a Facebook post belittling another image bearer followed by a link to a favorite praise song (see James ch. 3). I’m guilty of this and know I’m still at risk for falling right into that habit.
One oft-discussed topic in the Christian blogosphere is complementarianism. It isn’t as if this is a new discussion occurring within the church. Paul had to correct the Corinthians on it and included instructions for men and women within the church in his letters to Titus and Timothy as well. Rather than try to summarize, I’ll let the Spirit-inspired Word speak for itself:
“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.” -1 Corinthians 14:33-38
“But you must say the things that are consistent with sound teaching. Older men are to be level headed, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance. In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. They are to teach what is good, so they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered. In the same way, encourage the young men to be self-controlled in everything. Make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching. Your message is to be sound beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be ashamed, having nothing bad to say about us.” – Titus 2:1-8
“I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument. Also, the women are to dress themselves in modest clothing, with decency and good sense, not with elaborate hairstyles, gold, pearls, or expensive apparel, but with good works, as is proper for women who affirm that they worship God. A woman should learn in silence with full submission. I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; instead, she is to be silent. For Adam was created first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed. But she will be saved through childbearing, if she continues in faith, love, and holiness, with good judgment.” -1 Timothy 2:8-15
It’s true that there are prohibitions given in these passages. It’s also noteworthy how many beautiful truths are communicated here:
- God isn’t a God of confusion but of peace.
- He is the Source of His Word, not any mere human.
- God created both man and woman in the right order – and we know that it was very good (see Genesis 1).
In 1 Timothy, the prohibition to women teaching or being in authority over men is preceded by an incredible encouragement to women of God to dress themselves in good works. Satan deceived Eve in the garden, tricking her into believing that God was holding something back from her because there was one tree that was off-limits. The enemy still spreads this lie, and we should flee anytime it tempts us. Our Father is perfect and isn’t trying to keep us from anything good!
Older men and women and younger men are given solid exhortations towards holy living. Titus is likewise encouraged to make himself “an example of good works” and to proclaim the sound message of Christ.
As I’ve meditated on 1 Timothy each Thursday for a little over a year, I’ve sought the Spirit’s enabling to be a woman who loves her husband and children, one who is kind, and one who prioritizes good works over expensive apparel. I fail a lot. I failed to be patient and gentle more times than I can count even within the time it took to write and edit this post! His grace abounds in Christ.
Yet I can testify that as He’s produced fruit in me in this area I’m less drawn towards controversies online or elsewhere. Reading a Bible story to the kids now comes before putting on eyeliner (which rarely happens anyway 😉 ). Having the time to prepare and deliver a meal to someone means that I need to be disciplined in managing our household and that there just isn’t a lot of time for aimless scrolling.
Thinking more frequently and more deeply on God’s gentleness, patience, love, and great mercy towards sinful people (of whom I am the foremost!) holds me back from snap judgments and subsequently gossiping or harboring unforgiving feelings towards others.
To close, I’ll share a passage we looked at in my Bible study this week – I love the phrase “against such things there is no law”! Family in Christ, let’s earnestly pursue those things together.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit.” – Galatians 5:22-25