The more letters of Paul you read the more you may notice patterns. He, along with other writers, often expresses a great concern for false teachers. There are warnings against their doctrines and the gospel is then described in stark contrast. 1 Timothy begins no differently as part of Timothy’s charge in watching over the church in Ephesus is to pay careful attention to what is being taught. Timothy needs to keep the teaching pure and put in end to false teachings.
I think most of us would rather stand for something rather than against it, but there are times, as we see in the Bible, when it isn’t either/or. There is a time for subtlety. There is also a time to call attention to false teaching and false teachers. And it is not only an issue about what is true and how should we protect that. Here in 1 Timothy we see one concern of Paul’s is that some in Ephesus have devoted themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Are they the most threatening issues affecting the church? Perhaps not. But they result in speculation and vain discussions.
What Paul wants Timothy to promote is proper stewardship from God and to foster love from a pure heart. If we spent all day speculating on unimportant issues we would have spent the whole day on unimportant issues! We certainly may have discussions that border the core elements of our faith, but we ought not devote our whole selves to them. In Ephesus people do devote themselves in this way, desiring to be teachers, to be authorities, yet they have no idea what they’re even talking about (rough translation of 1:7).
If you ever listen to talk radio, be it sports or politics, it is amazing how many hosts can go on and on for hours filling up time without saying much at all. Try taking notes during the program and then at the end look back at just how much was said. I doubt it’ll be very much. That is not the model for Christianity. We aren’t to endlessly babble or speculate, whine or critique. There is a great place for discussion, teaching, and study. But these are to lead us in following Christ and being a people of action, acting out our faith in love.
Proper stewardship isn’t just an issue of money. Vain discussions and speculation are poor stewardship of one of our greatest possessions: time. God has given us each day to live and we need to be wise in how we manage such an wonderful gift.