1 Timothy 1:5
5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
What a mouthful this little verse is. It seems Paul wanted to sum up all of the commandments regarding our relationship to one another with one sentence, and I think he did a superb job. The words penned in this verse resonate to every aspect of our interpersonal relationships and we would do well to practice these simple things every day. He even says this is the “end of the commandment.” This means that once you put them all together the result is found in three simple steps. As we go through these steps, evaluate how you are doing with each one. Ask God to help you do better if you struggle in one area or another.
First we have charity out of a pure heart. As you all know, charity is the same as love when it comes to the Bible. Charity is the word used in 1 Corinthians 13, where love is defined as well as any college textbook or psychologist has ever defined it. Practicing love out of a pure heart takes into account all the attributes of love found in that famous chapter. Let’s take a quick look at what Paul says there.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8:
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. We use all kinds of flowery words and sound so sentimental when we tell someone we love them. In our world today, love is one of the most overused and misused words in the English language. “I love that dress you’re wearing,” I love the way you did your hair,” I love the Patriots (Yes, I really do), or ” I love meatloaf.” Love is used to lure women and men into doing things they would rather not do. An old saying days that men use love to get sex and women use sex to get love. It is a word that has no meaning behind it when used in this context. It’s just a sounding cymbal, a noise amidst all the other noises of the band. Unless there is loving action with it and expects nothing in return, the word love is misused.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. I can have all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, walk around performing miracles in Jesus name. I can have all the knowledge in the world and a vast knowledge of the Bible and it’s implications for life. My faith can be as powerful as possible, able to move obstacles that are in my way because I believe it can happen. All these are great things, but if love is not attached to them they are nothing to God.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. I can give away all that I have to help others in their time of need. This is a good and honorable thing to do. Or I can give my life for the Gospel. But if I do not have the love of God as my driving force, these things will only add to my pride, and they are not profitable to my spiritual life,.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, People with love are patient with others. They does not get anxious or upset if someone else is blessed and they are not. They wait on God without demanding of Him. They do not think of themselves any more than they think of others. They understand that they are supposed to put others before themselves and do not get boastful about their accomplishments.
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; The kind of love we should have will never behave in a crass or vulgar way. It will not cuss or speak rudely at any time. This love will look out for the other person before thinking of themselves and will not get offended or upset very easily. It also will not even think of bad things about people.
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; This kind of love does not take pleasure when someone else falls into trouble, and does not think kindly to any type of sin in their own lives. They strive after the truth in all things.
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. This love bears with anything that might happen around them because they believe and have faith in those people around them and hope for the best at all times. They endure anything that might come their way without offense.
8 Charity never faileth: This charity that we are supposed to have will never fail to do what it says it will do in light of all these characteristics. It will always be there for our friends and our enemies. It will not fail to reach out to someone else with a pure heart.
This charity Paul is speaking of is a high calling to all who take the name of Christ. We cannot do it in ourselves, but only by His strength and with His love shining through us like a beacon. Jesus said the world will know we are His disciples by the love we show to others (John 15:35). I personally have a lot to work on when I look at this list.
The second point Paul makes to Timothy is that he must have a good conscience. There should be nothing he is doing that would need repentance or forgiveness from someone else. We get a guilty conscience when we wrong someone or deceive them. This should never be done by a Christian. We should walk in such a place that all can know what we do day to day. God knows! Does He approve of everything you do, or is there an area of your life where you have a guilty conscience?
This pure conscience extends to the people around us. When we do good deeds, do we do it to gain favor, or to hold it over their heads or to make ourselves look good? None of these type of acts are done with a good conscience unless your conscience has been hardened through repeated defiance. If the love you are extending to others is for greedy purposes and you are not hearing that still small voice in your head saying you must repent and make it right, I think you better examine yourself. You should feel guilty when you take advantage of someone else. If you don’t, something is wrong.
The third attribute Paul wants to see is faith unfeigned. Unfeigned means that there is no hypocrisy or impure motives. It is faith in other people that is genuine and authentic. No one will question the sincerity of this person to minister the Gospel only for the sake of helping other people see the way to Christ, not for reasons of self-indulgence or self-promotion. I have a real problem when I hear countless advertisements for books or CD’s or teachings from a preacher on the radio. I know that is how they make the money to be able to do the shows, but sometimes the promotion is longer than the actual message. They could keep these promos separate and short. The constant harping for funds is one of the main reasons people are turned off by the church.
We need to step back and see ourselves as the world sees us. We need to look in the mirror and understand exactly what others see in us and in the actions we take from day to day. Then we need to compare what we see with these three simple things Paul asks of Timothy. I have a lot to work on in order to be seen ion the pure light of the gospel. How about you?