Okay, this didn’t really happen. In fact, I can’t even imagine this being a real thing. Can you fathom a soldier forgetting to report to the battle because the game was still on? Would you even consider that the pickup football game in the back yard went long so he missed defeating the enemy? Isn’t “I was just too busy” a good enough reason for the commanding officer? Not a chance. Being a soldier requires a focus as to why you are a soldier. It requires setting yourself apart for the mission.
2 Timothy 2:4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.
We are called to be a soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3). As a soldier we are called to have our minds set on heavenly things, not on earthly things. We are to have our hearts set on the kingdom of God rather than the kingdom of self. This is our calling, to please our commanding officer and keep our eyes on His kingdom work. We are called to do the work of the Lord just as a soldier is called to do his work. We are to focus our lives on the mission.
Yet somehow, we end up getting entangled in civilian affairs. Our time is spent toiling over things that don’t last and things that don’t have a lasting impact. Our eyes are upon the things of this world rather than on the mission given to us by heaven. That’s not how soldiers behave. That’s not how their lives are guided. If our hearts are truly to “report for duty” then our lives must also fall in line. It’s time to stop allowing the civilian affairs to pull us away from our mission. We are soldiers; we are His. So let’s get to work.
2 Timothy 1:5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
If conclusion jumping was an Olympic sport, I’d be a gold medalist. You know what I’m talking about: someone says something vague to you and you immediately began a thorough investigation into what made them say that. “Why are they telling me what to do? Maybe they don’t like me. They obviously think I’m a terrible person.” You’ve probably had thoughts like these go through your head. Like me, you’ve made some impression jumps to conclusions. You could win a medal for it. Here’s the problem: conclusion jumping isn’t a sport that we ought to be participating in.
In his letter to Timothy, Paul gives an instruction. Then he immediately follows up the instruction with this statement: “I am saying this out of love and my heart is pure in it.” Why would Paul need to say that? Well, maybe there was a chance people thought he was just being a bossy jerk. I mean, have you read any of his other letters? He was man who was large and in charge. But here, he reveals his heart – because hearts can’t be read. They can’t be seen. They don’t always come through well with words or tone. And so they get misinterpreted and misunderstood.
The lesson here is that we can’t just make assumptions about Paul’s tone and then transfer those assumptions to intention of his heart. And if we shouldn’t make those assumptions about the Apostle Paul, then we shouldn’t make them about each other. If we truly love one another, qualifying statements shouldn’t be necessary. There’s only one true reader of hearts, and it isn’t you or me. So let’s get out of the conclusion jumping competition and start assuming the best in one another. If we do, we may discover a heart of gold in the most unexpected places.
1 Timothy 5:19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.
On October 30, 1968 Marvin Gaye released his hit single “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.” The tune was catchy and even covered by the California Raisins (yes that was a thing). It’s a song about a rumor he has heard. The rumor? That his love has left him for someone else.
Don’t you know that I heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Oh I heard it through the grapevine
Oh I’m just about to lose my mine – Honey, honey yeah
Now poor Marvin was heartbroken. His love was gone and he didn’t even hear it from her! I don’t know if the rumor turned out to be true; the song doesn’t say. It’s mostly just about the rumor.
The message of the song was clear – rumors stink! Yes they do. Paul wrote to Timothy that he ought to be careful about rumors. Because the truth is, people in leadership will get talked about. They will get accused of things. It seems that when people hear bad things about people in charge, they jump on the bandwagon before any truth is discovered. For some reason, people like to see leaders fall.
As Christians, we aren’t to be boarding the rumor train. Instead, we need to be seekers of the truth. That’s why Paul said not to start accusing leaders unless there are some witnesses. He wanted to avoid this “your word against mine” mess that ruins people. So the next time we start pointing fingers at people, we ought to step back and wait for truth. And in the meantime, it wouldn’t hurt to pray for them. Because if they have truly done some things that will lead to their fall, they are going to need the same grace of God that covers all of our failures.