Back in Ephesus Timothy receives a letter, it is from his mentor.
As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.
(1 Timothy 1:3-4 ESV)
“Oh no,” Timothy thinks, “The real work is about to begin.” Paul continues on, telling Timothy of the problem. Paul seems angry, frustrated even. Had it not been his mentor that had predicted this would happen in Acts 20:29? Now he was asking Timothy to set these things straight. That was what he had been left there to do was it not? To correct these false teachers, now Paul had outlined the problem
Paul continues his indictment of the false teachers:
The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.
(1 Timothy 1:5-11 ESV)
“Man, that confirms it, these people are messed up” thinks Timothy, “I guess I have my work cut out for me.”
This is true; Timothy did have his work cut out for him. Here are these false teachers, who have corrupted the church. They have upset households and disregarded the authority of the apostles. Now they must be dealt with and to do that Paul has to lay out the grim reality of the problem. These false teachers have denied good stewardship and made the gospel a reproach or an object of disgust to outsiders.
The Issue of Stewardship:
Here we must define Stewardship.
The Greek word used here is the word “Oikonomia” (New Testament Dictionary), which is difficult to translate. Generally it means “Orderly Plan, Household Management or Financial Management.” Here the word is coupled with the word “Theou” which is the word for God or can be translated “Of God.” The context here puts Stewardship in the realm of God’s Orderly, Sovereign Plan. So we can define Stewardship here, as the management of God’s orderly plan by teachers and saints. Or the management of God’s household or finances. You may even add how we handle the Gospel as believers seeing as the gospel is part of God’s Orderly Plan seen from the beginning of creation (Gen 1:1).
Regardless, the teachers here in Ephesus were being poor managers of God’s plan for the church and for the people of the church as well as for the surrounding areas. Later we will discuss what exactly these false teachers were believed to be teaching, for now we will leave it at poor management.
Poor Stewards Today:
If false teaching and poor stewardship were problems in the ancient world where everyone was divided we must be even more vigilant and aware today. One can simply turn on the television to find men and women alike mishandling the Word of God as well as the plan of God; consider the prosperity theology where God’s plan is that everyone be healthy and prosperous. Yet Jesus reminds us that “the poor we will always have with you” (Matt 26:11). Consider also the advocates of the social gospel attacking genuine believers because they do not do enough for the homeless or want to go and support a believer under fire for his faith by eating at his chicken restaurant.
One of those examples is extreme, the other is not. The point is that poor stewardship and management of the gospel and God’s plan happens in today’s society. From the subtle truth twisting to the blatant deception of some God’s plan is mismanaged. Our responsibility then, is to be seek to be better and better stewards of the Word of God. To be able to know and identify the lie because we know and have been transformed, mind and heart, by the gospel of Christ Jesus, who died on the cross to save us from the depravity of our minds. We must then be vigilant, having studied to show ourselves as “workman, unashamed of the Gospel of Christ” (2 Timothy 2:15).
Dealings in Love:
Finally, Paul has given Timothy a method to deal with these false teachers and teachings. He says in 1 Timothy 1:5, “The aim of our charge is Love, which issues from a pure heart, a good conscious and a sincere faith” (ESV). So to deal with false teachers we must deal in love. To do that, first we must evaluate and prepare ourselves. We must allow God, through the work of sanctification to create in us a Pure Heart, not one stained by selfish sin or depravity. A good conscious, not one wrought with sin and guilt and a sincere faith, not one defined by selfish motives and deceitful intent.
The text tells us that love issues from these three things, a pure heart, a good conscious and a sincere faith. So if you have these three, you will have love, the love from the Father, poured out on us then poured out through us. We are to deal with false teachers in Love, but first, we ourselves must be above reproach and able to rightly divide the word of Truth; to use the law, lawfully, building up the flock as opposed to tearing it down, working to further the kingdom. Rather than sinful interests and lusts for power and prestige.
So how is your stewardship? Evaluate this question this week. “Does the way I live my life best represent the Gospel and manage the Orderly Plan set forth by the Father for me and those around me?” Keep a journal and ask God to show you opportunities to test your stewardship of His Gospel. Remember though to do all things out of love, let that be the aim of your charge, for it is only the love of God that will change the hearts of those who do not practice good stewardship.
Grace be with you.