Scripture: 1 Timothy 6:20-21
Common English Bible (CEB)
20 Timothy, protect what has been given to you in trust. Avoid godless and pointless discussions and the contradictory claims of so-called “knowledge.” 21 When some people adopted this false knowledge, they missed the goal of faith.
May grace be with you all.
As I reflect on this scripture today I think back over my life as a Christian. When I was very young in the faith I ran into a lot of opposition regarding my beliefs. I had several “study sessions” with people who, although I know had good intentions, basically used scripture to attack everything I had been taught. The thing that bothered me the most was being told that I had not been baptized in the proper manner and that the method which was used for me was not sufficient enough for me to receive salvation. I was so unsure and afraid that I hadn’t done the right thing that I ended up having three different baptisms over the course of a year. I know this goes against the idea of “One Baptism” but I suppose it is what it is. God was there, I’m sure He understood.
I continued to struggle like this for several years, it was a back and forth argument on both sides of the fence. I would go and talk with those whom I respected in the UMC, then back to those with opposing views. I supposed I played Devil’s Advocate with both sides, bringing up opposing views with each of them and then trying to decide which answers were most acceptable. It was all very confusing.
Even today I continue to struggle with opposing viewpoints and ideas about God, scripture, doctrines and theologies, and I imagine I always will. The individual points of struggle change as time goes on, and my ideas and beliefs change sometimes to. For instance, I don’t struggle with my baptism anymore. I feel confident that the first time was all I really needed. I can go back and look at sermons which I preached early on in my ministry and some of them I couldn’t use today because my thoughts and my faith have changed so much. Ideas I had early in my life have evolved and I believe that God has given me progressive revelations as I was able to bear it and accept it.
So what does this have to do with our scripture? I notice that Paul says “Timothy, protect what has been given to you in trust.” (my emphasis) And I think of what God has given me in trust. It’s those things that have been revealed to me through my own life experience, through the scripture, through tradition, through reason and through prayer that I must protect. If you are sincere in your faith, I know that God will reveal Himself to you in the way that you need, and as you are able to understand.
I guess the question is, “What has been given to you?” What has God revealed to you through your own life experiences? It may not be the exact same thing that has been revealed to me, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valid, and it doesn’t mean that what I have been given isn’t valid either. The trouble we run into is when we start thinking that we are right and therefore everyone else must be wrong. That’s the way the world sees it. But God is able to see above and beyond the limited thoughts of the world. Maybe that’s why Jesus said the two greatest commandments are to love God and love each other. We may not be able to see eye to eye on every issue, but if we can just love God and each other we will be doing alright.
God of all of us,
Help me to protect what has been given to me through the inspiration and guidance of Your Spirit which is with me always.