There are some modern day issues that Paul addresses and wants to be sure that Timothy does not overlook. He tells Timothy to beware of those whose conscience has been seared by a hot iron, which basically means those who do not have a conscience, whose conscience is numbed. He points out specifically food and marriage, the two area of joy and pleasure and fellowship and lasting relationships that are so critical to our modern day social fabric. He chastises those who say you should not marry, even though he himself says at one point in I Corinthians 7:8 that people should stay unmarried. But he does not forbid marriage, in fact he calls created by God and so it must be good.
This is a message for those who believe that being unmarried somehow makes you more fit for the kingdom of heaven and somehow makes you a better servant. I’ll never forget getting together periodically with the Catholic priest from across the street when we were serving in Naples. We were good friends and we would meet for pizza and fellowship, just the two of us. Many times he would confide that the fact that he was not allowed to marry was the most tragic “thorn in the side” of his calling. It absolutely caused him to sin, even though it was his decision. I am certain that some day this burden will be removed from my brothers in the calling.
Paul goes on to write to Timothy that even though he was young, and he was young, that he should conduct himself in such a way that no one would be able to point to his youth as a reason for why he is acting the way that he does. This is a great point. I’ll never forget coming back from Italy as a young 29 year old and being the pastor of a church in Florida. It was a very scary experience for me, I knew I was clueless, but I had to hold it together. The way that it manifested itself was the first few years I was very reticent to make decisions. I was so unsure of myself that when I had to decide something I had such a hard time knowing the will of God. That has evolved into gathering the input of people around me so that the Holy Spirit isn’t limited just to what I think but what those around me advise. That is much healthier but it takes time and maturity to figure that out.