5 The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. 6 But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions. 7 They want to be known as teachers of the law of Moses, but they don’t know what they are talking about, even though they speak so confidently. (1 TIm. 1.5-7, NLT)
In my first post in this series, I said that we all have to behave in church, and that 1st Timothy was written to teach and train every Christian on how to behave in church. Today, I am going to give you a number of ways that you can behave in the house of the Lord, which is the church.
- Be Filled with Love
- This is fundamental. Now we know that our spirits are filled with love the moment we get born again, so it is our souls that need to be filled with love. We need to be thinking about how much God loves us and how much God loves everyone else in the church. This is an essential behaviour in the house of the Lord. When you go to church, when you go to living church, when you go to meet your brothers and sisters in Christ, remember God loves them, God cares for them, God wants to bless them, honour them and lift them to a higher level. Ask the Lord for ways you can show love to them, ask the Lord how to walk in love, think of creative ways to bless people in church.
- We could say a lot about this, but 1 Cor. 13.5 in the ESV says “Love does not insist on its own way”. One of the ways we misbehave in the house of the Lord is by insisting on things being done our way. Insisting we have a say, insisting we have our turn to speak and minister, insisting the church be run our way, insisting that we can do what we want. None of that is walking in love, and none of that is behaving in the house of the Lord. When people come to Tree of Life Church and in their first week they want to speak to everyone in the church, I know wherever they have been – what church, what Bible College, what conferences – they have never ever learned how to behave in the house of the Lord.
- 1 Cor. 13.5 also tells us that love is not irritable. We need to not be moody with each other. The Greek word for irritable is paroxyno, and it means to be sharp or uncomfortable. We need to be deliberately working on making people in the church as comfortable and as blessed as possible! Those people who enjoy stirring, and love their drama, and share their gossip, have no idea how to behave in the house of the Lord and need to be taught the basics!
- Don’t Miss the Point
- The whole point of church is to be filled with love. But some people in Timothy’s church missed the point. They didn’t realize that was the point of church. The vision of church is to build something full of love, filled with love, but so many people today still miss that point. They want the church to be about them showing off, about them causing a scene, they think just learning about love is boring, and they want to “do something”. I regularly get asked “what is the church doing”, by people who are not there a lot or when they are there are not walking in love and are easily offended and not prefering one another in love. They have missed the whole point. The point of church is not chasing satan, not who can pray in tongues the best, who can impress the most, who can be the most dramatic, who can get themselves talked about, who can have their say. It is to grow in love, and if you don’t realize that – you have missed the point. Some people get upset and annoyed if you bring the point back to love and walking in love and training people to love each other. They want to “go deep” in the Word, but they are not deep because they never serve. You cannot be deeper than the people you serve!
- Don’t Turn Away
- Other people start off walking in love, start off loving the church, but then something happens and they turn away from that love. They turn their back on building a house where people walk in love and share love, and love each other and help each other in practical and spiritual ways. They started off behaving in the house of the Lord, but the pace of learning love, the pace of discipleship, the pace of wisdom was too slow for them so they started running at the pace of the spectacular, chasing miracles, chasing fads, chasing each other’s tails. Getting promoted in the church was taking too long, so they started sowing sedition within the church and ended up in the sin of Absalom. They turned away, and they lost out. And when people turn away from love – they end up in a place where nothing has meaning, because all meaning is found in God, and God is love.
- Don’t Waste Time in Meaningless Discussions
- There are many times in church I have to shut down a discussion because it is meaningless. People want to argue about something that is not explicitly said in Scripture, or about a Scripture that has an ambiguous meaning. They want to pontificate about conspiracy theories, about politics, about other people’s hearts and why people did a certain thing. It’s all meaningless discussions and it is not how you behave in church. And with a lot of people it is the same meaningless discussion every single week. Week after week. Every living church, every conversation, every situation has to be warped and twisted to become a chance to bang on about their meaningless topic. That time could be spent learning more about love and grace and God’s goodness, and studying the Word.
- Don’t want to be known as a law-teacher
- People want to have all sorts of secret knowledge. They want to point to something in the book of Leviticus and then show something about the Hebrew and how this letter of a Hebrew word means this and the other letter means that. It’s all about being sensational and not about building people up. So many people mangle Hebrew, it’s more likely someone mentioning the Hebrew is mangling it than not in some circles! People also want to control others, and the law is great at helping you control people. If you preach the law, you can easily make other people feel scared or guilty, and then you can control them. That’s one reason why people love preaching and teaching the law, to control. The truth is found in Romans 6.14 that we are not under the law of Moses. It is in the Scripture so it is definitely able to admonish us and teach us, but it is not the law we are living under, but the grace of God, and we should major on that. If not, we are missing the point.
- Don’t Talk About Things You Know Nothing About
- Psalm 131.1 says that “I do not concern myself with things above my level”. A lot of people like to talk about things they just know nothing about. They will tell me how church should be run, and they have never run a church (except into the ground). They will talk about how to do this or that, but have no idea. They tell me how we should do evangelism but never do it themselves. They tell me how the worship should be led and they cannot hold a note. They tell me what I should preach on but they cannot even serve someone. They tell me they are a prophet but they cannot handle a slight correction! Stick with things you know about and you are learning to behave in the house of the Lord!
Next week we will look at the point of the law of Moses and what it is good for.