1 Timothy 1:5 “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
Goal setting is a common practice in all walks of life. Cross country runners seek to attain a personal best time as the run their race. Businesspeople set goals for advertising and financial gain. Weight watchers choose a goal weight for their height and bone structure. And teachers decide what goals they want to accomplish in the education of their students.
The Apostle Paul was a very active writer with very specific goals. He penned numerous letters to various churches for the purposes of strengthening, encouraging, and teaching the members about the things of God. In the book of 1 Timothy, Paul wrote to an individual. Timothy, his protégé in the faith, was a member of Paul’s missionary team, and at Paul’s request he stayed in the city of Ephesus to stand against some tough opposition to the church and the Christian faith.
Paul recognized the difficulties Timothy was facing and wrote him a letter. It wasn’t a newsy note, but a letter with a purpose. Early on Paul explained that his letter would be full of instructions with certain goals in mind. He desired that Timothy and the Ephesian congregation would develop love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
These three things should still be goals for Christians today. We become aware of our weaknesses in these areas by allowing God, through His word, to reveal the places in our hearts that need reshaping. The goals are accomplished as we submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s powerful guidance with obedience.
- Love from a pure heart: It seems like it would be easy to love. We love those who love us. Or we love those who can do things for us. But loving with a pure heart has no thought of self. It is loving because God loves. It is loving without expecting pay back. It is desiring good for all regardless of how they treat us. This kind of love is impossible without being fully connected to God through Christ.
- Love from a Good Conscience: In order to live our lives God’s way and to love others God’s way we must maintain a good conscience. It is essential to stay sensitive to the nudging of the Holy Spirit as He points out areas in our lives not in line with God’s will, and to immediately confess anything He reveals so we can receive the freedom that comes with forgiveness. In this way our relationship with God will deepen and our testimony before others will remain strong.
- Love from a Sincere Faith: Faith will always be under attack. There is an enemy who seeks to destroy the truth any way he can. Timothy was facing this struggle and so do we today. There are always men and women who seek to turn victims from sincere faith in God to strange doctrines. Many get caught up in false spirituality, which focuses on myths and speculations rather than the truth in God’s word. Even those who understand God’s truth can be swayed to mistrust their Savior if they take their eyes off Christ and focus on their personal understanding of their circumstances. Paul recognized that maintaining a sincere faith is always a fight.
Paul had a goal for writing his letter to Timothy, and God has preserved the letter for us. Things haven’t changed much in two thousand years. So let’s ask God to help us to love Him and others from a pure heart, to develop a good conscience, and remain strong in sincere faith. After all, if goal setting is helpful for athletes, businesspeople, weight watchers, and teachers, it follows that we who are God’s children and desire to be faithful to him should set goals as well – to achieve much for His glory and honor.