Paul writes this letter to his dear friend Timothy to help him discern issues facing the early church. The wisdom here for us is still relevant and refreshing. You’ll recall Timothy was a young protégé of Paul’s serving as a church leader in Ephesus. Paul was a bit of a father figure to Timothy, too, so you might sense that kind of dynamic in the writing.
You can likely think of your own close Christian friend who took delight in pouring into you over the years. Those are treasured relationships. You may also be the wise one doing the same for the next generation. With all that is happening in our world, it’s easy to get distracted and focus on unhealthy sources. How thankful we can be for wise counsel, like Paul’s.
When we’re spending time with God, we’re generally focusing only on our own relationship with God. Here we’re given counsel on best practices for us in interacting with other relationships with have in our lives. Our households. The world would be a lot friendlier place if we took better care of our loved ones in these simple ways.
For fear of sounding a bit “old-fashioned,” I fondly remember the days when family dinner time was sacred time. Whether it was a fancy meal or just something quick, spending time with each other is what was important. We connected. We shared lives together. It was so much easier to be mutually submissive, loving, encouraging, etc.
This is how we ended the last reading. “But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.” Now we know what Paul was referring to. It’s all about love. This is probably a familiar passage, especially if you’ve attended a wedding. What better setting than a wedding to review God’s ideal way of life! It sets up the newlyweds for success and reminds us all how love works.
We are called to love one another, and Paul describes for us what that looks like. Love is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot for things, like “I love chocolate.” While I am very much a fan of chocolate and will choose chocolate over pretty much any other flavor if given a choice, “loving” it in a Biblical sense doesn’t quite fit.
King David is portrayed in several different ways in this text. As king and as a father, we see David in a bit of torment. Yet, he doesn’t let this stop him. He only asks, “deal gently with young Absalom.” David doesn’t use the word “son,” perhaps because it hurts too much to know his own son has turned away from him.
When his predecessor, Saul, learned that his own son, Jonathan had turned against him, he went bezerk. David does not lose his composure or ability to lead. In fact, he is seen as “too valuable” to go to war against Absalom.
Did you ever push the boundaries when you were a child growing up? I certainly did. Even though I was a bit afraid of my mother and her paddle, I would still “sass back” and try to get my way. Looking back, being the oldest had its drawbacks. I watched my younger brother get away with a lot of the same things I had gotten scolded for!
On the parental side, I know how frustrating it is to watch our children test and learn. I also know how difficult it can be to employ the discipline called for or expected. In our reading today, we see the Israelites falling back into the same evil trap of following other gods and angering our one, true God. It seems that God has finally had enough!