The goal... is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
- 1 Timothy 1:5
This morning I ran across 1 Timothy 1:5 for the second time in recent days. It caught my attention both times, like an object in the ocean shimmering in the sunlight. I think the salience of these words is due to the simplistic beauty in which they stir a desire for what they describe: a pure heart, a good conscience, a sincere faith. It is also striking that these three are said to produce love. How is that, I wonder?
A pure heart is an undivided heart. It is a heart singularly devoted. "One thing I seek," the psalmist writes. A pure heart produces a more focused, intense love, just as a laser beam's power comes from its concentration of energy. How fiercely could we love if our hearts were not so divided within ourselves?
A good conscience is worth all the riches in all the world. What must it have been like drift to sleep under the stars in the Garden without ever rehearsing a single regret, misstep, or hurt? What is more, a good conscience is worth more than any sin which so cunningly connives to take its place. On the other hand, a troubled conscience leads to fear. And fear, not hatred, is the greatest obstacle to love.
A sincere faith comes from an unshakable trust in God and His Word. Doubt produces fear, and fear, indulging us in self-preservation, cannot love anything but safety. Love is always risky. We may give of ourselves fully, only to be rejected or let down. But a sincere faith considers this possibility and, choosing to trust the other, loves like a leap into the deep end and into the arms of the Father.
May God grant us a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. The goal is love.