1 Timothy 1:5 ~ "The Often Neglected Foundations of Real Love"
Good morning once again. Please turn with me in your bibles to 1 Timothy 1:5. Before we get going I want to just back it up and read verses 3-5 and then we will pray and ask for the Father’s help and then we will get to work.
1 Timothy 1:3 – “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.”
If you notice he said in verse 3 that you may “charge” people not to teach. That you may silence people, that you may command them to be silent. Then in verse 5 “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
Let us ask God to help us. God, we pray this morning that as we look at your word there are a number of terms that are packed into this single verse. The aim (goal) of all faithful biblical teaching obviously is love, but what does that look like? What are the other foundations from which a true love springs Lord? We see these terms that are presented to us this morning by the apostle Paul. Terms like “a pure heart, a good conscience, a sincere faith,” and we want you to help us understand just exactly what it is that you are saying to us. Open our minds Lord to hear what it is your word is saying to us. We ask Lord that your spirit would illuminate the text on the page before us and that you would bring understanding to your people, that you would strengthen our faith, that you would recalibrate our conscience and that you would reassure us of a new heart in order that we may love as you have called us to. We ask these things in Christ’s name, Amen.
One of the miracles of modern medicine that is given to us by the grace of God is the capacity to perform heart transplants. Coronary failure is a very common thing and up until recent modern medical history there was nothing that could be done if you began to experience heart failure. Modern medicine has brought to us the amazing miracle and the gift of heart transplant surgery. The first individual to attempt something like this is a bit of a “Mad Scientist,” named James Hardy. He had the consent of his patient to attempt a heart transplant in order to save his patients life, but the problem was he didn’t have a human heart to put in there. The first attempted heart transplant type surgery was conducted by Dr. Hardy of the University of Mississippi Medical Centre. He was working on a dying fellow by the name of Boyd Rush and his efforts started with trying to implant a chimpanzee heart into Mr. Rush early on the morning of January 24, 1964. Mr. Rush lived for approximately 90 minutes following the transplant of that very first heart in 1964. Really, the individual who is credited with the first successful heart surgery (or something of a success) was Mr. Bush who didn’t love very long. The first successful human to human heart transplant was performed by a South African cardiac surgeon by the name of Christian Bernard in 1967. That year of 1967/1968 following, there was great success with the transplant of hearts in the individuals who needed them. Undoubtedly, as many of us age and grow older some of us will experience some degree of coronary heart failure. When you transplant a heart into a new patient there are certain things that you have to take into consideration; the most important of which is this: the body naturally rejects the new heart. Because it has different DNA, it comes from a different person, the body recognises the heart as a foreign invading tissue and immediately the body’s autoimmune system will kick into overdrive and will try to attack the heart and to kill the heart. One of the things that has to done right off the bat is significant immunosuppressant drugs have to be given to the patient in order to hold back their immune system so that their body will not attack the heart. Beyond all of this there are other things which you have to do such as exercise and eating carefully. There are a number of things you can do which will endanger the viability and vitality of your new heart. You say “Well that’s all really interesting, but we are here talking about the bible. What does any of this have to do with scripture and what it is that God is trying to say to us this morning?”
I take my metaphor from the book of Ezekiel in which God says to the profit of Ezekiel “I will give them one heart and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart.” We see there that THE thing that Jesus is doing for us by dying on the cross in order to forgive us of our sins, in order to make atonement for us, is He is succeeding in giving us a new heart. By placing our faith in Christ and what he did for us on cross we are transformed, there is a new heart that is given to us and we are saved by faith as a result of the grace that God gives us by sending his son Jesus on the cross. There is no doubt that we have all, those of us who have trusted in Jesus, received a spiritual heart transplant. The question now that we have to ask is are we being good to our new heart? Are we nurturing that new heart or are we sitting on the spiritual couch eating lots of fatty cholesterol ridden foods and doing all of the things that doctors tell you can’t be done once you have been given a new heart. Let me pose the question to you specifically here today; as you are here as a believer in Jesus Christ, knowing that you have been transformed by the cross, are you living in the light of that truth? Are you loving as God intends for you to love? That is the question that Paul is dealing with here in 1 Timothy chapter 1. He makes the statement right out of the gate. There is no appreciation, there is no “hey Timothy, I thank God for you because you do X,Y, Z.” In all of his other letters Paul is careful to point out all the positives before he begins to get to the instruction and before he begins to give a specific concrete teaching in terms of what he wants to happen. Here in 1 Timothy there is none of that, no thanksgiving, he just jumps right in and says here is the deal Timothy, you stay at Ephesus and the reason you stay at Ephesus is because you have a job to do and your job is to charge (command) certain people not to teach different doctrine. The reason for the teaching of that different doctrine, the reason why that is so dangerous is because it weakens faith and promotes speculation rather than the faith that is to be in God. Timothy is to charge them not to teach different doctrine. This begs the question, if I am to command these false teachers not to teach falsehood then what is the goal (command/charge/end) of my own teaching? Paul answers that question in verse 5 “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” Paul uses the same word there as he used in verse 3, “charge them NOT to teach a different doctrine.” The aim of our charge, that is the true command that we have been given from God the Father, is that people will love; that is the goal. He is very specific about that. In verse 5 he uses the Greek word telos, the goal or the end in view/destination to which we are to be striving in our preaching and in our teaching, is love. This then leads to another interesting question. In light of all of the cultural transformations that are taking place all around us and recent developments even within our public education system (the rise of SOGI and the demand for sexual freedom in whatever capacity it is craved or wanted) what constitutes biblical love? You see, the world is hammering on an idea of love which if we come to the scriptures we don’t find that the worlds idea of love is anything like scriptures idea of love. We find that what the world thinks is necessary to find fulfilment, this sexual gratification, this pursuit of sexual pleasure in whatever perversion of form it may take, Jesus is saying there is something entirely different that God has in view. The goal of our charge, the aim of our preaching, the destination in which we want to be going is towards love, but we are surrounded by people who have no idea what that is. If we live in a society that is really rather clueless about what real love is, sometimes that can influence us so that we are not really sure what it means love. So, Paul clarifies for us in this verse: we are not loving if the action of our love does not come from three things. He mentions them very specifically: First, he says “The aim of our charge is love that issues form a pure heart.” Second, “and a good conscience.” Third, “and a sincere faith.” Although there are lots of things which the world calls love and lots of feeling and emotions which the world sometimes will equate with love, we find here the teaching of scripture is that true biblical godly love isn’t love unless it comes from the three things that serve as the foundation of this love. It is not true biblical love if it doesn’t come from a pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith. A adjective “good” in this case is speaking in terms of a qualitative manner, the kind of conscience we have not merely a clear conscience, but a good conscience. It does not meet with God’s definition of love if it does not spring from a sincere or an authentic faith. That is, a faith that is without hypocrisy. So, that is what we are going to look at today. The first thing that Paul says here “the aim of our charge is love,” the aim of true biblical teaching is love that springs from a pure heart. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are very careful to identify the heart as the center of a person and the center of a person’s soul, the center of all that a person is, is their heart. It is the place from which the emotions come. It is the place from which the will is exercised and from which decisions are made. Those things from which you desire are found within your heart and how you choose to live your life, the choices you make, the decisions you undertake, the path you follow all of this comes from within the heart. Now, I am going to quote to you; this is a little bit of a different message because I want to be careful to biblically define these terms and so normally I will give you one or two cross references, but today we have at least a dozen scriptures that are going to come. Don’t necessarily turn there because I am not sure you are going to be able to keep up. I have got the notes and we will put this up on the website later in the week, so for now just try to jot it down and listen. Let me just say this, I love it when I mention a passage and I hear you guys flipping pages; I love that! So just today, pastor is giving you permission not to turn in your bible to certain passages; I never say that, but just for today its okay (said with humor).
1) Heart: Let us make sure that we understand what it is that the scriptures are saying about the heart and how it is that the bible defines the heart. Romans 1:24 the bible makes it very clear that the heart is the source of the emotions and the passions. The apostle Paul writing in Romans chapter 1 talks about fallen humanity and how fallen humanity has sinned against God and gone astray from God. It makes the statement that God has given them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves. Notice that expression “lusts of their hearts.” So, this is the word heart being used in a particular context that helps us to understand what the scriptures mean when they say heart. Here, Paul is saying the lusts of their hearts, that is the things that they want, the things that they are striving after, the things that they are craving. So, a heart is a source of desire, it is a source of emotion/passion. We also find that it is biblically defined the source of decision making. You always want whatever it is that you want most. If the thing you want most in life is to have a house, if that is what you want, if that is the passion or the desire, the thing that you are craving most then the decisions that you make will follow after that passion. You will save your money, you will set it aside in a bank account, you will save up that initial down payment, you will begin searching for properties all of these actions and activities that you undertake, that you choose to do flow from the desire you have to have a house. Paul makes that very clear. Within the book of Romans 6:17 (and this is entirely fitting because it is Thanksgiving) Paul says “thanks be to God that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed obedient from the heart.” To obey is to know what it is that God wants you to do, what type of activity that he wants you to follow and then to choose to undertake that. Paul is clearly associating that choice of obedience with an activity that has happened within the heart. As we are looking at this passage here in 1 Timothy, it is very important that what Paul is saying is that at the centre of your person, the centre of who you are, at the core of your being is your heart and the heart we may also label it if we want as your soul or your spirit, but the scriptures predominantly use the term heart to describe that intangible thing that is at the center of who you are. Heart is the term that is used and we find that at the center of that is certain desires and certain choices or we could say passions and will. That is what Paul is saying. He is saying that love, the goal of biblical preaching is love that springs from your heart, but then he qualifies it by saying that it springs from a pure heart. Paul’s statement here is that biblical love isn’t biblical if the heart is desiring and willing to do certain things is not first purified. Now, at its core, what Paul is saying is that if we are still chasing after the things of this world, if we are still chasing after sinful desires and sinful passions then we do not have a pure heart. What that means is that any action we undertake that the world might call love is not loving if at the heart of the motivation for that action is not a desire to see God glorified. A pure heart is a heart that has trusted in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, has recognized its own moral failing and understood that there is justice that is required. A pure heart recognizes that there is nothing that can be done to make itself right with God. The pure heart surrenders and stops trying to make itself right with God. The pure heart looks to Jesus for the cleansing that Jesus provides through what he has done on the cross. If I could put it this way, the pure heart is a heart that is not striving in its own power or seeking its own glory. The pure heart is the heart that hopes in Jesus for all and is seeking the glory and exaltation of Christ above all. Any action that is undertaken from a passion to see Jesus’ name lifted high and has a will that is exercised towards certain activities to ensure that Jesus’ name is lifted high; that pure heart is engaging in loving behavior. But, how can we make sure that Jesus’ name is really being lifted high? You see, from day to day we encounter all kinds of different ethical situations and scenarios. We find ourselves having to make all types of decisions from whether or not to buy a certain house, whether or not to engage in a certain type of economic activity, whether to take this job, whether to spend time with that friend, whether or not to engage in this hobby. All of these decisions based on the motivation of the heart could be right or they could be wrong and one of the things that we need, one of the instruments that God has given us to help us to understand the motivations of our heart and whether or not our actions are good or bad, is our conscience.
2) The next thing that Paul says here is that biblical love firstly springs from a pure heart, but the second thing is that it springs from a good conscience. That is an important word to consider, “good.” Normally when you and I talk about conscience we talk about it in terms of whether or not it is clear or whether or not it’s clean. In other words, when we think of our conscience we have this idea (and it is not a wrong idea) that there is almost like a little angel sitting on one shoulder and there is a little sort of devil sitting on the other shoulder and they are both whispering to us. The angel is saying not to do the bad deed, do the good deed. The devil is whispering that it would be so easy for you to steal and take; it would save you time and money and you could quickly get something which doesn’t belong to you. We are kind of going back and forth and then we decide, for example, to do the bad deed whatever that might be and immediately the little devil on the shoulder rejoices then goes quiet. Then the angel is saying how disappointed they are in you, you’re a bad person, you did bad things. That is the idea of conscience here. It is that feeling we feel leading up to the engaging of a certain activity and it is also that feeling we feel after we have done that certain activity. Whether that activity was good or bad, our conscience will tell us before hand if we are slow enough to listen to it, if we slow down and consider what it might be saying to us. Our conscience will speak to us and after we do the activity, whether it was good or bad, our conscience will still speak to us about whether it was good or bad. Now, this is an important thing to consider because I am going to make to you a suggestion today, and this is something you need to hear very carefully, your conscience is not infallible. Your conscience is not without making mistakes or inerrant. Only the word of God is inerrant, only the word of God is infallible. Your conscience is something that God has given to you, but your conscience must be calibrated by scripture. Like any instrument it needs tweaking and fine tuning. I want to throw a couple of scriptures at you to give you a definition on conscience. After carefully surveying the New Testament, conscience is your consciousness of what you believe to be right and wrong. Now what does the conscience do? First off, the conscience bears witness to the truth and thereby can either reassure or condemn us with guilt or it can reassure us and encourage us that our actions were right based upon our knowledge of what is right and wrong. First off, let us talk about condemning. In Romans 2:15, the apostle Paul again talking about unbelievers makes the statement that they, that is unbelievers, show that the work of the law that is God’s moral law is written on their hearts. They know it instinctively. Paul goes on to say that while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them. So there, the apostle Paul again talking about the fact that all of humanity is aware of sin and has this intuitive nature of what is right and wrong, is saying that it is given to them by God and it is written on their hearts. They know God’s moral law, they know what is right, they know what is wrong, and based on their actions Paul goes a step further and says that their conscience begins to present conflicting thoughts to their mind and sometimes accusing them saying they are bad persons for telling that lie or man you are a bad person for cheating on that exam or you are a bad person for stealing that thing from work. Or, it will begin to reassure them that they are not so bad in the context of “you are not perfect, but what you did when undertook that particular action is okay.” So, your conscience will start to speak to you. Now, it can condemn you, but it can also reassure you. In Romans chapter 9 the apostle Paul writing to the church at Rome makes this really incredible statement. It is a statement which I think everyone would like to make, but which I think most of us if we are being brutally honest with ourselves, we would never make. He is talking about wishing for the salvation of his fellow Jews who are not believers and are still trapped in their Judaism and they have not trusted in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. He says “I wish that I would be cursed and going to hell if is somehow meant that my fellow Jews could be going to heaven. Now, I am just going to tell you that I love you guys and as your pastor I care deeply for you, but if I were to say that statement to you my conscience would be bothering me. I love you, but I am pretty sure I am not going to trade my salvation for yours (chuckles from the congregation). So, when Paul makes that statement we have to be skeptical. Isn’t that hyperbole? Aren’t you kind of over stating the case? Aren’t you exaggerating just a little bit? Paul knows that is what his readers are thinking so he says (Romans 9) “I am speaking the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit, for I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers. Wow! What a statement to be made. He says that just in case you were wondering, I know this is an incredible statement and my conscience is bearing witness that I really mean it. What a statement! All of this speaks to the fact that our conscience is bearing witness to us day by day in the things that we say and the actions that we do; are they good, are they bad? Something else that your conscience can do is it can determine your moral freedom in relation to the moral freedom of those around you. You say, that’s an interesting statement what are you getting at pastor? You may know that a certain action is morally okay, but you might be hanging out with other Baptists or Christians who might think that a certain moral action is not okay. If you sense that there is some disagreement about the moral propriety of a particular action, your conscience will start to speak to you (if it is a good conscience) about refraining from undertaking certain actions not because there is necessarily anything wrong with the action, but for respect of the one who is with you. The example we have from the New Testament in particular is this idea of eating meat which has been sacrificed to idols. Not really a big deal today as we go home to eat turkey I am pretty sure that none of us went to a butchers shop in which the man incanted certain rituals over it and prayed to some pagan deity before he killed that turkey in order to sell it to you. This isn’t something that you and I face today, but it is something that they absolutely did face back in the first century. The moral dilemma was is it God honouring to eat meat or food that in its preparation certain other false gods, pagan deities, were invoked. Some Christians said it didn’t matter they are fake gods, they are not even real so who cares. Other Christians were unsure if it was a problem because they did not want the true God to be jealous because somehow they might be worshiping these other gods. This is the moral dilemma that Paul is addressing. When your conscience begins to tweak you about doing something that could offend the conscience of others, you need to understand that is an activity that is clearly spelled out in the New Testament. 1 Corinthians 10:28-29 “If someone says to you this meat has been offered in sacrifice then do not eat it for the sake of the one who informed you and for the sake of conscience.” Paul clarifies “I do not mean your conscience, but his. Why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience?” Then he goes on to say “We should not use our freedom to harm our brother.” There, conscience is saying its fine, eat the meat; it doesn’t matter. But, if the person sitting across from you has a bothered conscience by this, you have to be sensitive to that. Implicitly what the scriptures are teaching is that there must be within our church here at First Baptist a great regard for conscience. For us to walk around and say to each other “I am just going to do it anyway, I don’t care what you guys think.” That is a violation of scripture that does not take into consideration the biblical command to love. Here me carefully, whatever it is you are proposing to do, whenever we come to a business meeting or whenever we are discussing starting a ministry or doing something in the community, you are entitled to your opinions, but you must for the sake of love have regard for the concerns of those around you; particularly if they say their conscience is a little bit uneasy about this. The ministry that you want to start is probably perfectly valid, but those concerns must be considered and as a church we have an obligation to bear with those who may have a weaker conscience in order to ascertain whether or not our conscience is truly good. Here’s the rub, what you and I may not have any problem with doing whatsoever, we might actually need to start having a problem doing it. This is where Paul is moving. The conscience can be wrong and it must be recalibrated by the truth of God’s word. In Romans 14:22-23 Paul says “The faith that you have keep between yourself and God, blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgement on himself for what he approves, but whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats because the eating not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Now, we have an example from the scriptures of the apostle Peter being convicted that eating certain foods was wrong according to God’s law, but it really wasn’t wrong and here is where it gets really important for us to consider; the apostle Peter had it in his mind that there were certain foods, certain things he could not enjoy because it would violate God’s law. The problem is if you hold strictly to those things you will be limiting your ability to associate with people who do eat those things. In particular, there is a Roman centurion who worships God, who gives alms to the poor and God has determined that this Roman centurion needs to be saved. He was a fellow by the name of Cornelius. Now Jews have major issues hanging out with gentiles, not least of which is what the Jews consider to be egregious food practices in the way that they prepare their meals. So, God comes to Peter in a vision recorded for us in Acts chapter 10. Peter has this vision of a sheep being let down from heaven and in this sheep are snakes and it says “every vile creature.” Then God says to Peter “Peter rise, kill and eat.” Peter’s response back to God in verse 14 says “never Lord, for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” Again God says “Rise Peter, kill and eat.” Again Peter refuses and then God says “do not call common or unclean what I call holy.” From there Peter is recognising of the fact that he really should be willing to embrace these things to be nearer to the gentiles. Then the vision ends and he goes to Cornelius’s house and brings him to faith by preaching the gospel. Later on he has to give an account to himself. In that same chapter the Jews come to him and confront him for hanging out with gentiles and tell him he is a bad person. See, their conscience is starting to kick into overdrive. Peter begins to explain it to them. Their statement was that Peter violated God’s word by doing what God has expressly said in the Old Testament you ought not to do. Peters statement is that he had a vision where he was told to go and do this, that God specifically instructed him and then he adds the testimony of what happens after having gone and after having preached the gospel he says the Holy Spirit fell on them, they received the same spiritual gifts, same spiritual blessing of everyone else who had been a believer had received and he makes the statement “who was I to stand in the way?” He says “if God has given the same gift to the gentiles, who was I to stand in the way.” Of course then everybody hears this testimony and they say “your right” and they gave glory to God. We see here and instance in which Peter’s conscience has to be adjusted and recalibrated by scripture. I make that statement and here is where things get dicey because I know someone is now going to pose the question “we can eat unclean foods to be near to gentiles so can we go to strip clubs to be nearer to people who don’t know the Lord?” There is no doubt that being in a strip club will bring you nearer to people who don’t know the Lord, that is a certainty; however, what does the word of God say about our participation in certain works of darkness? This is where we have to step back and say yes, we had this instance in which with regards to the eating of certain foods God commanded that wasn’t to be observed anymore, but what does God say about pornography and looking upon naked woman and this sort of thing. We find that where as God has in the New Testament relaxed certain requirements around food observance and preparation and the rituals that are involved in the cooking and preparing of food, we find no such relaxation of standards with regards to sexual purity and holiness in that regard. This is the nature of conscience; for you and I to calibrate our conscience perfectly. We can look at it and we can come up with a lot of seemingly good objections and you might even be capable of saying “my conscience doesn’t bother me when I go to the strip club,” but at the end of the day your conscience isn’t that which we are to follow because in fact your conscience can be flawed. What we are to follow is the word of God. You will notice the term Paul uses here to talk about conscience is “the good conscience.” This is a qualitative statement. Elsewhere the apostle Paul has said that Jesus gives us a clean conscience or Jesus gives us a clear conscience and this has to do with our conscience potentially condemning us for past behaviors for sins and crimes that we have done wrong and we know that when we come to Christ and we ask his forgiveness by the blood of Christ we are forgiven. That forgiveness helps to silence the voice of our guilty conscience. However, that is not what Paul is talking about in this particular passage. He uses the statement “good conscience,” which is a qualitative statement meaning that it doesn’t matter whether conscience is clear or clean (although that is defiantly an idea that is presented to us in the scriptures), Paul’s statement is you are not loving the way God would have you to love unless you are loving in accordance with a good conscience. This means knowledge of the scriptures, knowing what the bible commands, knowing the ethical principles that are laid out for us in God’s word. Knowing those things and honoring those things are foundational to being capable of loving the way God would have us to love.
3) All of this leads us to the third category that Paul addresses. He says “and a sincere faith.” Essentially what Paul is saying here is that the hope that you have in God, the hope that you show to the world when you come here to First Baptist Church on a Sunday morning and worship God, that hope needs to be the same kind of hope that you have when you are at that hotel on that business trip when you are walking down the street and that pretty girl comes up to you and starts asking you for directions, when you are alone with your cell phone and you are tempted to pull up certain websites. What Paul is saying there is biblical love comes from a sincere faith. The opposite of sincere would be hypocrisy; where what you do in one particular setting is not the same thing that you would do in another setting. Now, what Paul is saying is that real love requires that you be the same every single day of the week. Real love flows out of a heart that says I know what it is that God wants me to be, I know what it is that God has called me to be and I am going to strive to be that person everyday regardless of where I am or who I am with. My hope in Christ, my confidence in Jesus, my certainty that he has forgiven me of my sins and that he can also save me from my sins and keep me from my sinning has to be that same certainty I have here on Sunday as it is all throughout the week.
If we love, we have to love from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. You are hearing all this and you are seeing me throw out all these scripture verses out there and you are thinking to yourself “how in the world can I make sure I have got a good calibrated conscience, how in the world can I be encouraged to having a sincere faith, and what certainty can I possibly possess to make sure I have got the pure heart?” Notice within the context that Paul is saying to Timothy “you stay at Ephesus because you need to keep certain teachers from teaching stuff that leads to speculation and you teach the good stuff, the stuff that leads to love.” So, the question that you are asking is, how can I make sure, how can I have certainty regarding the purity of my heart, regarding the goodness of my conscience, regarding the sincerity in my faith. The context of the passage is clear that the primary means that God is using in order to keep your heart healthy is the means of correct biblical preaching and teaching. On the flip side of the equation that is one of the reasons why Paul is telling Timothy why God speaking through Paul is telling us today that we have to be careful regarding who preaches and who teaches in the church because the wrong teaching leads to the wrong thinking and the wrong kind of conscience, the wrong kind of behavior and ultimately leads to the shipwreck of our faith. Indeed, Paul is going to talk about that later in this same chapter. We have to have good preaching; we have to have biblical preaching.
This last week I was watching the news and on ABC News Tonight I encountered the story of a woman “Lacey Tiara Wilcox” who’s 2-year-old daughter came down with bacterial meningitis and unfortunately her daughter Alaiya tragically died. As her daughter died the surgeons and the doctors who had been trying to save her life came to Lacey and told her, her daughter had passed. Immediately Lacey broke down grieving and crying for the death of her child. She recounts in her story that it was very jarring the next question that they asked. They said to her “your daughter’s heart is healthy and there is a little boy, a 2-year-old that is a perfect match. Although your daughter has passed, she can still save the life of another.” So confronted with that, the reality that your child is gone, Lacey made the decision to have her child’s heart taken and put into another little boy. A couple years went passed and she met this little boy Mason Perkins and this is the story that ABC News told this last week. They had a gathering of sorts between the Wilcox family and the Perkins family where they met this little boy who is healthy, who was playing and who is rambunctious, who was running around and living life because he has a heart, because he had the gift of life given to him tragically through the death of Lacey’s daughter. The thing that gripped me was that on the story Lacey got down and she put on a stethoscope and she listened to Mason’s chest where her daughter’s heart beat. She made the statement “we had so many different emotions running through us,” and she went on to tell about the fact that there was a reminder of this intense grief, this intense pain, but at the same time this unspeakable joy that through their loss others could be saved. She said they were anxious to meet Mason in person and that just from photos and videos they had always known that he had Alaiya’s energy, he has her spunk now as well. She is saying that because of the heart that Mason received she can tell he has got a little extra spring in his step.
First Baptist Church, listen to me very carefully, as you are thinking about the way that you love I want you to understand that there was another child that died in order that his heart could be transplanted into yours. As we encounter the story of Lacey Wilcox I want you to understand that, that is your story. God sent his son Jesus Christ and he crucified him and saw to it that his own son was brutally murdered in order that his heart, his spirit could be put into you. The question that I want to leave you with as we prepare for communion this morning is this: Is that heart healthy and are you being good to that heart in the way that you love?
Pray with me. Father, we pray this morning that as we bring this time of teaching to an end that we would love in a way that is consistent with your word. We pray that we would love in a way that first stems from having a personal relationship with you and having a pure heart. God, we also pray that your word would day by day and week by week particularly here in the gathering of your people to worship you week in and week out, we pray God that your word would calibrate our consciences and that we would have good consciences. We also pray God that we would be a sincere people with a sincere faith. Lord, we know that you want to do all those things in us in order to keep the new heart that you have given us healthy. We know God that we are saved by faith in your Son, but we also know Lord that there are steps we are called to undertake in order to make sure that we are living the most vibrant and vital Christian life that we can possibly live. So if there are any here who are gathered here today Lord who know and who’s conscience even now are perhaps accusing them, we pray God that you would speak to them and encourage them to begin taking those steps of healthiness. Lord, we pray you would work and have your way among us. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, Amen.
The book of 1st Timothy is a Pastoral Epistle (letter from Paul to a church leader). It was written to give encouragement and leadership guidelines to a young pastor named Timothy, Paul's "true child in the faith" at the church in Ephesus.