Tuesday Sept 1, 2020
Words of Influence
1 Timothy 1:3-7
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
As we use our words to teach and influence, Paul is warning us not to engage in unnecessary speculation and conjecture. It’s easy to convey information and endlessly talk around and around in circles and never really arrive anywhere. We can do that about faith, politics, school gossip, you name it. The truth of the gospel is not complex and impenetrable and yet people were saying the law had to be applied in certain ways to Gentile Christians. Teachers were being loose and undisciplined in their words concerning doctrine and engaging in meaningless talk. Such practice is not constructive. Such practice can easily tear down rather than build up. Our words, Paul says, should spring forth from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. In other words, we should speak life. Our words and our teaching should be consistent with our faith which has made us new and given us life in abundance. Everlasting life. We shouldn’t waste our words but use them to speak directly to one another, encouraging and building up those around us. Our words can help others act and overcome in spite of fear, so speak life!
You never know how long God will use your words to shape someone either. I met Hannah Grace when she was ten years old. I was a freshman in college. Hannah, her mom Robyn and brother Shane, started coming to the church I served while in college. They were an odd family because the church was made up mostly of college students. Hannah and Shane had also just tragically lost their dad in a horrific accident. To our great benefit, they felt at home with us and became part of the community. Ten year old Hannah was mature beyond her years. She was smarter than most freshmen. She was enthusiastic, curious, and eager to learn. She reminded me a lot of myself at that age. I always made sure to say hi and check-in every week. One Sunday, after Sunday school and before service, she mentioned how much she liked watching people. She liked to people watch with the best of them. She was interested not just in individuals but how people groups and cultures formed, developed and interacted with other groups. After she said all of this to me, I told her she should look up anthropology. She had no idea what that word meant and I told her it sounded a lot like what she was interested in. She said she was eager to look up what the word meant after they got home from church. We didn’t discuss the subject again while I was in school. After graduation, I lost touch with most of the folks who lived in Waco including Hannah and her family. I went to seminary and then started life in ministry. A few years ago, I received a Facebook message from Hannah about her Senior thesis for college. I hadn’t spoken to Hannah in 8 years and it was nice hearing from her. She wanted to interview me along with about 29 others for her thesis. I agreed of course and so we met at Fred’s in Ft. Worth. We caught up on life and then started talking more specifically about her paper. She said she was writing a cultural anthropology thesis on the communal culture of grief that arose at our church in the wake of our pastor Kyle’s death. And then she said, “Do you remember that day I told you about how I was fascinated with watching people?” I said yeah. She said, “And do you remember how you told me to look up anthropology?” I said yeah. She said, “Well, I did. And you’re the reason I chose this major and am writing this thesis. Ever since that day, I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life.” Now, today, Hannah is in the PhD program at Boston University studying anthropology. She was only 10 years old when I made the suggestion.
Friends, you are an influence. And you never know when God will use your influence to help somebody else discover their purpose in life. We are given opportunities every day to remind others who they are in Christ. We can build each other up. Who has influenced you? Whose words have meant a lot to you? May we strive together to be a godly influence today.
Prayer for Today
Holy Spirit, wake us up today. Enable us to see someone who needs encouragement. Empower us to speak life and encourage someone today. We trust you’ll give us the words. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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