Teaching Minister at 10th Street Church of Christ
There’s background noise (think of the gentle lapping of the ocean or a peaceful rain falling) and there’s background noise (a baby’s prolonged crying, a dog’s continued barking). Those in the first group are pleasant, while those in the second group are not. At their worst, they can interfere with our sleep, disturb our peace and disrupt our focus.
The church in Ephesus was dealing with more than its share of background noise. There were people teachings things that weren’t true (1:3), engaging in “controversial speculations” and “meaningless talk” (1 Timothy 1:4,6). There were “godless myths” and “old wives’ tales” (4:7), as well as “godless chatter” and “the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge” (6:20). There was a lot of noise at Ephesus!
Timothy’s task was to quiet things down. He couldn’t eliminate all of the noise (no one can), but he could dampen its impact by showing it was just noise and not something they really needed to pay attention to or be disturbed by. Moreover, through the public reading of Scripture and his preaching and teaching, he could provide the soundtrack for them to live by (4:13).
Twenty centuries later, we’re louder than ever. Our culture majors in background noise: social media, talk radio, television, our playlists, streaming services, etc. There is a steady stream of verbiage and imagery pouring into our lives. A study from the University of California at San Diego suggested we deal with 34 gigabytes of information each day.
In 1 Timothy 2:2, Paul encourages Timothy to pray for “kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” Peaceful, quiet lives are conducive to godliness and holiness. Too much noise is not. It’s no coincidence that David speaks of being led beside “quiet waters,” or the psalmist tells us to “Be still and know that I am God” (46:10). While God can certainly give us peace within any storm, noise reduction on our part is working in harmony with His purposes.
Quiet allows us to listen deeply and process fully as opposed to hearing superficially and not remembering anything 10 minutes later. Absorbing God’s truth and experiencing His presence enables us to cut through the din of voices telling us confusing, contradictory and destructive things. It allows us to live lives that are “in step with the Spirit” and full of His fruit (Galatians 5:25).
What are you doing to reduce the noise in your life so you can fully focus hearing God?