1 Timothy 4:4 “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude.”

Observation: Paul wrote his letter to Timothy more as a coach than an evangelist. Still, in this passage we see his devotion to consistent themes that seem to recur no matter the setting. He addressed “later times” when even people of faith would fall away, led astray by false doctrine: forbidding marriage and advocating “abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth” (4:3). So one of his favorite themes has popped up again—freedom in Christ, to be tempered always by the desire to do nothing to bring offense needlessly to a brother or sister.

Application: What overwhelms my heart through this passage is the earthly model we see of a good father’s heart. Pages of Scripture are littered with remnants of lives broken by unrighteous fathering; all of the kings of Israel and most of the kings of Judah, including David, spawned evil, destructive offspring. Such an important priest as Eli produced priestling sons who profaned God; patriarchs such as Abraham fathered Ishmael whose progeny oppose God to this day, while Jacob sired the heads of the tribes of Israel who were happy to abandon a brother and then lie to their father about it. 

The pace was set by our first father, Adam, who produced a murderer, and we have all fallen in step with the pattern. What deep, unremitting pain must my heavenly Father bear as He surveys the damage each generation carries because of the decisions of the previous. Only God Himself could break the pattern. It was His intervention that would enable Paul to say that he wrote from a heart of pure love, good conscience, and sincere faith. As a result of Paul’s internal transformation, he could then encourage and model a better way.

Paul surely intended to specifically affirm my freedom in matters such as marriage and permissible foods (although he may not yet have met the singular temptations of chocolate), but it seems reasonable to infer that marriage and foods were also examples of a much longer list of behaviors and appearance in which I must extend grace. Never content with surface panning for the occasional nugget, God seems always to be mining deeper into my heart to that place where rich veins of gold may be struck, to that place where intense heat and pressure can change a lump of dark, sooty coal into a diamond’s brilliance. 

Prayer: Father, I am deeply grateful for Your work to wring out of me the bitterness and judgment of past immaturity. You are growing me up in Christ, changing my heart. Thank You for these changes as they produce grace to live in freedom; cause me always to extend that grace to those around me.