August 2022 : Don't Swerve
When I was learning to drive I remember my Dad telling me to never swerve for animals. It is better to take out a pheasant or than to hit another car or harm yourself. In the moment this is easier said than done. I was once behind a small car when a bus swerved into it because a swan jumped in front of the car. Thankfully the passanger survived, although they were injured and obviously in shock. Swerving is dangerous and cause serious damage.
In Pauls' letters to Timothy, he tells him to prevent people from swerving. Timothy was the young pastor at Ephesus who had been trained and sent by Paul. Early in 1 Timothy Paul says he left Timothy at Ephesus so that he might teach the truth of God's word (1 v 3). Paul did not want the believers there to be caught up in 'myths and endless genealogies.' These could be extra biblical stories or legends that encouraged behaviour and living that is contrary to scripture. Paul said instead they should love and that love should come from a pure heart and a good conscience. He continues by saying that 'Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion.' Unhelpful speculation that is distracting from the truth. These may also be the people who Paul says have and will follow demons and deny God given things to people such as marriage and certain foods. Things given by God as a blessing (4 v 1 – 5). At the close of the letter he warns Timothy to 'Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge”, for by professing it some have swerved from the truth,' (v 20-21).
Paul has to bring this up again in his second letter to Timothy where he writes about the pointless quarrelling over words and spreading of false teaching. He sadly mentions Hymaneaus and Philetus 'who have swerved from the truth.' They were apparently claiming that the final resurrection had already happened. Some bibles translate this word for swerve as 'wandered' or 'gone astray' or some other equivalent. The point is that we must remain on course not taking our eyes off of Jesus and the truth of his word. We must never swerve off towards something else. Today there is false teaching being peddled as there was in Timothy's day. Teaching that is either contrary to, or absent from God's word. These teachers were leading people astray from the truth and from Christlike living.