As a man and his wife were traveling across the desert by camel, a terrible sand storm came up causing the man to be separated from his wife. He desperately started searching for her on camelback, but could not find any trace of her. After several days, the man was separated from his camel in another sand storm. He was devastated and thought, “How will I ever find my dear wife without my camel?”
His search now turned to finding the camel so he would be better able to find his wife. Days turned into weeks. When the man stumbled into an oasis, his sandals were in tatters, and his robe was reduced to rags. But there by the edge of the water was his wife!
“Oh my poor husband,” she said, “You look so terrible! You must be in awful pain. What can I do to help you?” Wide-eyed, the husband replied, “Help me find my camel!” That which had been a means to an end, had become the end itself.
In 1 Timothy 1:1–8, the Holy Spirit moved the Apostle Paul to remind Timothy that the end of the commandment is charity. There was a real problem with false teachers leading new converts astray. The Judaizers wanted to add the law to the Gospel. The Gnostics had perverted Christianity by their philosophy and speculation. Concerned that new believers could be led astray by these erroneous teachings, Paul told Timothy to, “Charge some that they teach no other doctrine.” But then, he goes on to remind him that “the end of the commandment is charity.”
Here he emphasizes the purpose of dealing with false teachers. The ultimate goal was not to kill those who did not teach the truth, but to demonstrate love. It was not simply to purge error, but to live out Christian charity. They were ridding the garden of weeds in order to grow flowers. We can do many good things—take the right stand, avoid the wrong behavior, and pursue God’s purpose for our lives—yet forget that these are a means to an end. We are emptied of sin and self to be filled with love for God and others.
How can we keep our true purpose in sight? As in all matters of the Christian life, God gave us the Scriptures to guide us on the right path. We are told that this charity comes first out of a pure heart. A pure heart is a heart that is not motivated by selfish ambition or mere man pleasing, but a heart that is motivated by love for the Lord Jesus. Second Corinthians 5:14 says, “The love of Christ constraineth us.” From a pure heart comes a good conscience to guide us with charity. God gives all of us a conscience with an awareness of Him and His truth (Romans 2:15). Paul made it his purpose to, “Have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men” (Acts 24:16b).
The third element on the path to a life of charity is unfeigned faith. This indicates a genuine belief in and personal relationship with God. How much of what we do is truly motivated by love for God? Remember, in all of our work, service, and separation, the end of the commandment is charity.