Behaviour Must Match Belief
Paul’s letter to Timothy is full of instructions about how Christians should relate with each other and behave in the world. The people in the Ephesian church had multi-cultural and multi-faith backgrounds. When they came to Christ they also came into His family; so they needed to learn how to live a new life which matched their new faith. This was so important that Paul felt the teaching could not be delayed until his next visit because faith which is not expressed in right behaviour is useless (James 2:14-26).
Rules for religious living sound a good idea. But moral instructions without spiritual inspiration are useless in changing our behaviour and habits. It is impossible to live like Christ without having Christ within: the behaviour of Christians needs to match the character of Christ. Even then we need to be taught what pleases Him. Our weak flesh is prone to sin and will always defeat our good intentions, unless our eyes are fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). So Paul reminds Timothy to teach the believers about the supernatural Christ. The last sentence of today’s passage was probably an early hymn about Jesus: if their minds were full of that song, it would encourage them to keep Him as their focus and not themselves.
We easily fall into habits of behaviour which are not Christ-like. We may have learnt them from others while growing up, or found them to be convenient methods of getting our own way or surviving in a hostile world. However, they accumulate as spiritual baggage which weighs us down and needs to be dealt with (Hebrews 12:1). The only way to handle wrong behaviour-habits which are rooted in the past is to dig them up, identify their roots and expose them to the light of Christ. The more we see Him in the Bible, the less ‘right’ our wrong habits seem to be. Having a biblical song about Jesus in our minds will help a lot during the day, and even through sleeplessness. The truth about our Saviour will expose the lies which have been sown into our lives. As we learn to worship the Lord in our hearts daily, even when we are at work, we will start to form new patterns of behaviour which please Him.
© Dr Paul Adams