Do I Live What I Claim to Believe?
I am writing these things to you so that you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:14-15
Last week, as I was up North fishing with friends and family, we found some marijuana in our cabin that had been left behind from a previous occupant. We disposed of it appropriately and I was never in any danger of consuming it, but there was – and probably always will be – a part of me that was a little curious. I bet that would feel good. Having worked on my recovery for nearly eight years, I was quickly able to play the tape forward, seeing what kind of damage I could do with one little indulgence though.
There are a lot of things I would wreck if I relapsed, but yesterday, as I was back to work seeing addiction medicine patients, I pondered the disaster that could have been. Can you imagine the hypocrisy of trying to assist patients in recovery, while using drugs myself? My knowledge wouldn’t be any different. I’d still comprehend all the right things to do and say, but it would all be a lie. I’d be a charlatan, telling others how to live right, while I was living wrong.
As Christians, though it may not involve drugs, we’re often prone to this kind of duplicity. In today’s passage, Paul explained that he’d written the previous instructions that Christians may know how to live as members of the church – God’s pillar of truth. It’s easy for us to read the passage and see our mission as proclaiming the truth to the world with our words – telling others how they should live. According to Paul though, we act as pillars when we first live out the truth ourselves.
This is easy to get wrong. It’s natural for us to pick out sins with which we don’t struggle and then scream at the world about them. We may not struggle with being transgender, so we crusade against transgender athletes in college athletics. We preach what we understand to be the truth, all the while indulging in our own greed, gossip, hatred, anger, lust, and self-centeredness. We point out the struggles of others while remaining silent about the sin within the walls of our own churches and homes. According to Paul though, being a pillar of truth means that we ourselves are sober, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, peaceful, generous, giving, honest, truthful, pure, and faithful.
It’s easy to see our church mission as telling others how to live. According to Paul though, we must first live the truth. Our transformed lives are the best message we can show the world.