5 AM Devo: Old Wives’ Tales

Monday, June 3

Old Wives Tales

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith (1 Timothy 1:3-4).

The book of 1 Timothy is called one of the “pastoral epistles.” The reason is, it was written by Paul to his young protégé, Timothy, to give him guidance to pastor the church (1 Tim 3:14-15). Timothy, a younger man (1 Tim 4:12), was dealing with specific issues and Paul was coaching him through.

One of the issues in the church was that other people were coming into the church and teaching strange doctrine. Strange doctrine can be defined as any teaching that departs from the Word of God.

The Bible says:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17).

God’s Way is Always Right

The false doctrine was creeping into the church from people with various ideas and influences that they were bringing in from other places. Paul mentions, “myths” and “speculations.” The problem with this is that it is man-centered and not revealed in Scripture. We want God’s truth, not man’s opinion. God’s way is always right. Ours, not so much. As the Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Prov 14:12).

A Little Lawn Maintenance

We had just moved to south Louisiana and everything was new to us. We were super excited moving into a brand-new home and all the new experiences that went along with it.

One of the first things I needed to do was some lawn maintenance. The grass needed to be cut, the bushes needed to be trimmed, and there were vines growing all over the trees and even on the house. It looked really messy. It was a full day of work with the lawnmower, weed eater, rake, and other lawn equipment. When I finished, it looked great!

The next morning, I recognized a rash on my arm that was extremely itchy. As the day went on, though, it wasn’t too bad. That night, however, I woke up itching, not only my arm, but now my other arm! I was extremely uncomfortable and it itched like crazy. I figured I had gotten some type of an allergic reaction to something that I had eaten or drank. I got up and put

calamine lotion onto it. The next morning when I got up, I realized it had now spread to my legs. I applied more lotion and, during the day, it was bearable. By that night, I was itchy again and had the rash all over my body. It was on my arms, legs, stomach, and neck. I had calamine lotion all over me and was miserable to say the least.

Don’t Scratch!

The next day I connected with a friend who pinpointed the problem: “oh, you’ve got poison ivy! Whatever you do, do not scratch. If you scratch it, you’ll break the blisters and it will spread!”

Growing up in Miami and not spending much time in the woods, I had never seen poison ivy before. But, my guess is that’s exactly the vine that was growing up all over the back yard that I had torn down. “How long will it last?” I asked. “I could last a week,” was his reply.

Just Ride it Out

I counted the days and realized I was about halfway to a week by now. I’ll just ride it out. I was now blistered and had been scratching like crazy. Dummy me had spread the stuff all over my body. “Now,” I wondered, “how long will this last and what do I do to keep from scratching?” My first thought was just wrapping myself up in ace bandages, but I feared looking like a mummy or a victim of a horrible accident. My wife took great pity and went to the store and found every type of itch and poison ivy cream and remedy that they offered. They brought little relief.

Couldn’t Help But Scratch

As much as I tried not to scratch, I just couldn’t help it—especially at night. I would wake up scratching. I wondered how long the cycle of scratching and spreading would continue. I decided to go online and read up on poison ivy. My research was extremely helpful. The truth is, it does not spread from scratching. The problem with poison ivy is the oil that’s inside of the plant. When the oil from the plant gets onto your skin it causes an allergic reaction. The problem is not the blisters, but the oil.  You have to get the oil off of you.

The oil is bad stuff and can spread by contact. For example, if you have the oil on one arm and touch the other arm it could spread and get into your system. Or, worse, if you have it on your shoe from the day before, you could get it—or even if your dog goes outside and gets into it and you pet the dog!

Thankfully, there are preventative things you can put on your body to prevent the oils from getting onto you. In addition, a simple shower can wash out the oils (it might have still gotten into you skin, but at least won’t spread). However, scratching it and breaking the blister do not cause the poison ivy to spread. That’s an old wives’ tale.

Belief Lead to Behavior

When I asked a friend what I had—he knew it was poison ivy. However, he didn’t know much more than that. His knowledge was based upon information that had been handed down to him. He believed a “myth” and an “old wives’ tale.” He wasn’t trying to be deceitful but was just passing on information that he believed to be true.

The major problem with a false belief system is that it leads to a system of behavior. Proper doctrine is our guide for how to live and please the Lord. Our doctrine should come straight from the Word of God and not tradition or ideas handed down by other people. As the song goes, “The B-I-B-L-E, yeah, that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.

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