5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
1 Tim 1:5 (NASB)As I reflected on this one, I thought about it in light of how and why we teach in our churches. Often we teach with the hope of behavior modification, without really contemplating exactly what that will take. We teach 'Tithe' or 'Stay faithful in marriage' both of which are mandatory for Christians. But do we teach it effectively?
One thing I'm seeing here is that our instruction (NASB footnote has 'or commandment') is not just about information, but teaching, especially in the church, has at its heart that actions will follow. In school, you're not just reading those books for fun. The intention is that you will act, in some way, based on what you read. Education is intended to result in actions by the educated, which is why the worldview basis of where your kids go to school is much more critical than most people acknowledge. ooops...bunny trail...
off the bunny, on the main trail: Then I'm seeing this: the first aspect of instruction that Paul is talking about is 'love from a pure heart.' Our first goal is to instill love in the hearts of the people we teach. Not just any love, but love from 'a pure heart.' Where does a pure heart come from? From being made new in Christ. Jesus said that if we loved Him, we would obey His commandments. So, instilling a love for Christ that drives the motivation for obedience is critical. And this comes more from the attitude and life of those who teach than just from their words. We should have a genuine love for Christ, a genuine love for those we teach, and a genuine love to learn ourselves.
Out of the love we teach through our actions, our goal is a 'good conscience' which comes from doing right things. Our words and example teach right actions, which include proper doctrines. Doctrines are the framework on which we place the principles that drive actions. For example, one should not just teach not to commit murder, but the doctrine behind it. Even God did so in Genesis 9:6, explaining the doctrine that makes the action sinful. So, we teach right actions and proper beliefs, so that we meet our goal of a 'good conscience'
I separated the idea of doctrines from love for this reason: our love for Christ is what compels us to right doctrine. I hold to a deep need for truth and correct doctrine, but recognize that without love it is useless to be right. However, to love untruth is not true love.
Our attitudes and words demonstrate love, our words and examples teach correct belief and action. Our faith trusts God with the results. Ultimately, we should strive to teach to the fullest of our ability, and trust the Lord God with the outcome.
This is NOT an excuse for slacking. Just as a boring preacher cannot blame the Holy Spirit, so an unprepared, disinterested teacher cannot blame God for poor results. Our responsibility is to provide the best we can, and trust the power of God to do the rest.
That's the Doug opinion tonight.