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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Contagious love

The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love – love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God.  Those who fail to keep to this point soon wander off into cul-de-sacs of gossip.  They set themselves up as experts on religious issues, but haven’t the remotest idea of what they’re holding forth with such imposing eloquence.  It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say.  It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever!  They are contemptuous of this great message I’ve been put in charge of by this great God. (I Tim. 1:5-11)

Paul earnestly desires that Timothy develop into a strong leader in the church, but he also knows the tendency that we have in the natural sense to want to “rise to the top” and become the center of attention.  It is a natural outcome of fame or success to feel a little bit puffed up – feeling good about the accomplishments you see around you.  Paul’s main emphasis to Timothy is to live in such a way that self is not allowed to contaminate the message that is spoken in both the word we use and the actions that we display.  This is a sign of a good leader – one who is able to bring forth the vision / message and then not get puffed up in pride when the message begins to take its course.  Paul knows that the message of hope that is found in Christ will only be effective when the seeker sees true love that is free of contamination (no self interest; no secret agenda; no self-serving motive). 

We have a difficult time understanding what uncontaminated love really looks like because we have so frequently seen just the opposite – those seeking their own way, directing the outcome of a relationship so they have their needs met.  Paul knows that the hungry need to find food.  Religious leaders need to be equipped to feed those they have been given access to in their sphere of influence.  

It is a dangerous thing to offer the hope of the message of Christ without fully recognizing its value in your own life.  Living in such a way so that the freedom we have in Christ is always visible is important for pointing hungry souls to Christ.  The leader will do well to keep in mind that the message they are commissioned to carry forward is spoken best in the daily actions of life.  

You may say, "Hey, I am not a leader...so this is not applicable for me."  I want to assure you that in some capacity in your life, you lead others.  It may not be a "formal station" in life, but you do have influence over others regardless of your station.  As leaders, both in and out of the church, we need not only be cognizant of the message we bring forth, but how we say it, who we say it to, and the timing in which the message is brought forth.  It is more than an eloquent presentation or perfect dissection of a passage of scripture we may have come across in our daily study.  It is the reality of message lived out in selfless love toward those who are hurting, in need of deliverance and hope for their lives.

Remember, we point more people to Christ by our example than by our words.  A "life open to God" is a contagious life - if nothing else, people get curious to know what it is that makes us tick!  So, "tick" loudly for Jesus!  Live out "contagious love" that is uncontaminated.