…guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”… Be diligent to present yourself a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.
(1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 2:15-18, NASB)
False teachers. False doctrines. False lives. Since the garden of Eden, Satan has used his title of “Father of lies” to sway people from God’s truth. Blatantly. Subtly. His toolbox is full of huge sledgehammers all the way down to small screwdrivers, all ready for use to destroy truth and defend error.
Truth. Guard the truth. Guard God’s Word, which He’s given to us to study so we can know Him intimately (Gal. 1:18). Guard it because you’ve been entrusted with it, so be very careful what you do with it. Keep it clean. Keep it unspotted. Don’t wipe any externals on its pages. Don’t add to it or detract from it (Rev. 22:18-19). When you speak or teach from it, be aware of the sacred trust you have. James 3:1 is clear: teachers will be held to a higher accountability, which has consequences. Setting an example and a standard for those who are looking up to you as a Godly leader and as God’s child is a very high calling. It’s sobering. It’s humbling. Paranoid person that I am, I have to continually ask myself: When I’m teaching in His Name, am I truly turning others to HIM, or to anything other than Him ? Am I mixing the purity of God’s Word with conjecture when I’m called on to do the former – and do I avoid the latter?
What are God’s children to avoid? Anything “worldly”, or devoid of real significance (cf. 1 Tim. 4:7), and “empty chatter”, which literally means “empty sounds or empty voices” – talk that has no value. Instead…
…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
In this passage, Timothy is warned to avoid those who pursue worldly and empty conversation, or manner of life. Paul connects “worldly and empty chatter” to false doctrine. In this context, “worldly and empty chatter” is error concerning the resurrection and, in application, it’s participating in anything outside of Godliness. What’s this mean for us? Satan wants to distract us from learning God’s Word and he’ll use whatever tools are at his disposal. Avoid those who seek to suck you in with pursuits that have no real merit in God’s realm. They’re a tempting distraction. Be discerning of what you listen to, no matter who it comes from. Love them, pray for them, but don’t follow them. Paul repeats this command to Timothy several times (1 Tim. 6:3-4, 11 says to “flee these things!!).
I think there may be even more application here.
Perhaps we need to be more aware of those who dwell on concepts that may seem “good” (focused on things of life around us), but are not necessarily the “best” (focused on God)? Profound as it may sound, sometimes the “good” is not always the “best”…
What do we aspire to – things of the world, or of God? What are our motives for what we do? Are we seeking to love a life of Godliness, or are we allowing subtleties of the world to shadow our focus? What are we participating in? What goals do we have, and what are we teaching others to want to do and be? God’s Word is clear: Do ALL things to glorify HIM. The world, and all that is in it, is fleeting. Avoid meaningless (in the eternal scheme of things) things. “Let your light so shine before men” – clearly, without streaks or shadows. Our focus should be on our real home in Heaven, not spending our time focusing and aspiring on things of this world. I think that also includes a balance, which means we need to remember that God’s Word is a book and we need to interpret Scripture with Scripture. Don’t grab pieces of it and leave chunks behind. It’s an entirety to follow. Respecting others is part of God’s plan; don’t become so focused on pushing God on others that you forget the love, the respect, the gentleness…
Listen carefully to people who minister in Jesus’ Name. What do they speak – opinions? Profound ideas? Or God’s Word? When they claim to speak in the name of “truth” – is it? God’s Word has POWER. God’s Word is TRUTH. Man’s word? Not so much. No matter how profound any man’s words are, they are MAN’s words and fall flat in the dust before GOD’s WORD. Be discerning. Love them. But be careful. You may need to avoid.
Why is Timothy to avoid “worldly and empty chatter?” Because it spreads like gangrene! What a vivid illustration that is! When infection sets into a wound and it goes untreated, gangrene insidiously takes over. Just the smallest bit of gangrene can spread and consume an entire body. In his New Testament Greek Lexicon, Thayer defines gangrene, “To gnaw, eat”; “a disease by which any part of the body suffering from inflammation becomes so corrupted that, unless a remedy be seasonably applied, the evil continually spreads, attacks other parts, and at last eats away at the bones.” And, if gangrene continues to go untreated, often the tissue of the infected arm or the leg dies and the limb has to be removed…
… whatever things are good… (Phil. 4:8-9)
We can’t know the truth unless we know the lie. We can’t know the lie unless we study the truth! The only way to know God’s truth is to read His Word. Bankers know counterfeit bills not by studying them; rather, they know counterfeit by studying the real thing. That too is how we know counterfeit doctrine: by studying the real thing.
Those that pursue worldly and empty chatter have “gone astray”, which means to miss the mark. The arrow falls well short of the bull’s-eye. Clearly not excellence.
So what about us? Where are we in areas of discipline? Focus? Striving for God? How about living inside-out (from our ♥heart♥) for Him? Whenever we allow anything outside of a focus on GOD to rise above and become a focus, a passion, a desire – we’re listening to worldly and empty chatter. Our God is a jealous God. His best is not focusing on wanting to be like ANYTHING that’s of the world. Don’t copy and seek to be like any part of this world. It’s empty. It’s chatter. It’s just noise. And listening to that noise can spread through you and consume you.