Did you know Paul wrote about emotionally ill Christians? He carefully outlined symptoms and what a person needs to do when dealing with such a person, and what that person must do to regain emotional health.
This subject is so important I’ll be offering an audio teaching of it at the conclusion of this 3 part Weekly Thoughts – in the audio teaching I’m able to go into more detail and share real life situations which will help provide more in depth coverage of this important topic.
How Paul started talking about the emotionally ill Christian
Paul is writing to Timothy in I Timothy 6:1-6 where he brings up the subject of emotionally or mentally ill Christians. His statement that the people he is writing about are emotionally ill is the middle point of a 6 verse teaching – the first 3 verses define the condition of their heart, then he defines them as mentally ill early in verse 4, then through verse 6 outlines their actions. Today, those first 3 verses about the heart.
The first 2 verses teach slaves how to work under the yoke of slavery – God doesn’t condone slavery as we are all equal in Christ, yet He had to deal with cultures that had slavery, the Lord being ever practical.
Verse 1: “All who are under the yoke of bond-servants (slavery) are to regard their own masters worthy of honor and respect so that the name of God and the teaching about Him will not be spoken against.”
In our day this relates to believing employees who have unbelieving bosses. Paul taught that Christians should have a sense of responsibility to live with an awareness their actions could cause the Lord to be thought of poorly by non-believers, or glorified when they live properly in the work place.
This first verse is about our sense of responsibility in public to live godly lives knowing we have Christ in us.
Verse 2: “Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful towards them because they are brethren in Christ, but they should serve them even better because those who benefit from their kindly service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these things.”
The Greek word translated ‘disrespectful’ is ‘kataphroneo’, literally meaning ‘to think down upon’. It is sometimes translated as ‘despise’ because this compound word is made up of ‘kata’ meaning ‘down’ and ‘phren’ meaning ‘mind’ – to think down on about another, or to despise them.
This second verse is about our sense of responsibility to live godly lives within our relationships.
Verse 3: “If any man teaches otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
Paul says ‘If any man teaches otherwise’, which is ‘heterodidaskaleo’ – to teach other teaching, from ‘heteros’ meaning ‘another’ or ‘different’, and ‘didaskalos’, ‘an instructor’, ‘a teacher’. In other words, these people have another teacher, a different voice they are listening to, rejecting Paul’s teaching in favor of ‘another master’ that has taken precedent over Paul’s sound wisdom.
Consider what Paul asks in the first two verses…
What person in their right mind would reject a teaching that says to be aware how you conduct yourself before an unbelieving boss, and to treat believing bosses with just that much more respect? Who would reject such common sense, logic, and such a reasonable instruction?
When he starts outlining the symptoms of an emotionally ill Christian, he starts here saying they reject this teaching. The steps towards emotional or mental illness begin, and are first seen here, with the rejection of common sense and a logical understanding of what it is to walk with Christ and godly relationships. Paul is talking about relationships in these first 2 verses, and people who reject common sense, social skills and wisdom when dealing with others. Strained relationships, or withdrawing from relationships, are the first sign of a person on a path towards emotional or mental illness.
What most Christians understand as common sense and logical, they take issue with. They have other ideas, other ‘voices’ telling them to reject such things in favor of their own thoughts on the matter.
As we will see later, Paul identifies arrogance and stubborness as major traits of someone emotionally ill.
Verse 3 continued: ‘and consent not to wholesome words’
The word ‘consent’ is ‘proserchomai’ meaning ‘to come towards’, and is used in Hebrews 10:1 of those who ‘draw near’ to the Lord. In the negative here, it is used of people who refuse to draw near to the Lord. The word also means ‘to nod the head towards (in agreement with)’, as one who nods in agreement with the Lord will draw near to Him - and these people refuse to agree and draw near.
They are disagreeable when it comes to common sense, logic, and ‘wholesome words’, claiming to have amazing new revelation from God or their particular twist on old doctrine. Or, for other conditions, they become obsessed with 1 idea in particular, maybe about their self-image, maybe about their appearance, maybe focused on ending their life – or any obsessive thought in between.
Because they reject common sense and logic that everyone else does, they become spiritual islands, alone in what they believe, even in their marriages, unable to draw near to the Lord in their own hearts, let alone drawing near in relationships with others, or even partaking in the common faith with their spouse or friends.
…is ‘hygiaino’, where we get ‘hygene’ or clean – clean words. Healthy words, sound advice, healthy teaching. Notice what Paul is saying thus far: If any teaches otherwise, they have another master they are listening to, refusing to draw near to the Lord and His clean and sound teaching. Advice from family and friends don’t help them. No one can persuade them what they are thinking is off-balance. They are convinced they are right.
These people are sliding further into emotional illness as they reject clean teaching in favor of other teachings and thoughts that prevent them from drawing near to the Person of the Lord. They hide behind their off-balance thoughts and doctrine often accusing others in arrogance, while refusing to personally draw near to the Lord – a facade of a spiritual life, often alienating those who love them the most, and in the context of the verse, also their bosses and fellow employees and other relationships – they pull away from others.
“…even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the teaching which is according to godliness.”
Paul says they are in fact rejecting the words of the Lord Jesus even while claiming to be obeying Him in special revelation, or they can’t leave their thoughts for His. Their thoughts hold greater importance to them than those of Jesus, which lead a person deeper into a closer walk in godliness.
Godliness is Christian character demonstrated by a lifestyle of love, transparency, humility, integrity, giving, and healthy relationships. These people are the opposite. They don’t draw near to the Lord, nor to their spouses spiritually speaking, nor to their bosses nor fellow employees or friends.
You can see where Paul is going as he highlights the condition of their heart, for those who reject common sense and logic soon have no friends, but either seek a platform to be heard, or they withdraw into themselves. Often the underlying disorder has to do with lack of self-love and lack of a healthy self-image, compounded by rejection – in short, they don’t know the Father’s unconditional love, were never rooted and grounded in unconditional love growing up and/or in later relationships, nor do they truly know Him as Friend.
And I’ve run out of room for today, next week, ‘wrapped in smoke’…until then, blessings,