If someone asked you, “What are the ‘irreverent, silly myths,’ Paul’s talking about in 1 Timothy 4?” what would you say?
What do you think Jesus would say?
It seems like Jesus would say, “Paul is referring to the myth of self-sufficiency.”
…Jesus was regularly getting into altercations with pompous religious types who propagated and peddled the mythology of self-sufficiency. They were all-about public recognition, and perceived reverence (making their phylacteries broad and their fringes long). They did all their deeds to be seen by others. They loved the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called “rabbi” by people. And of course, the training regiment for this cosmetic prestige was intense. In order to achieve the short-lived and shallow popularity they desired, total commitment and constant fretting was required.
Jesus condemned the Pharisaical training regiment. Jesus said, “You tie up heavy burdens, and lay them on people’s shoulders. You travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. You esteem and admire yourselves, and you call yourselves ‘Great’, but the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Jesus righteously antagonized the ‘reverential religious elitists’ of His day. In no uncertain terms, Jesus pummeled these silly mythologists with WOES; and He aggressively condemned all their toil and striving aligned with the lie of self-sufficiency.
True reverence, and training worth doing, is aligned with Jesus (the suffering servant). For instance, it is exceedingly worthwhile to imagine how Moses’ life, toil, and training as a shepherd in Midian lead to his decision to be mistreated with the people of God (rather than enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin). And it is staggering to imagine how Moses perceived the reproach of Christ, and esteemed it to be of greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt! And it is essential that we embrace Moses’ paradigm and practice for endurance, namely that we endure as seeing Him who is invisible; and we steward the mystery of sharing and rejoicing in Christ’s sufferings; knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. With the Spirit in us, we adopt the mentality of Paul when he says, “In a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things in order to receive a perishable wreath, but we do it to receive an imperishable wreath. We don’t run aimlessly; and we don’t box as one beating the air. But we discipline our bodies and keep them under control. We live as debtors to the Spirit, not the flesh. We are liberated from living for our flesh! We have not received a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but we have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ – provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.”