1 Timothy 4:7
7 But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
It was with profound concern for Timothy’s pastoral ministry that the apostle Paul had written this epistle. Instructions concerning a faithful and fervent pastoral ministry abound in this epistle. Timothy had just been instructed in the previous verse that “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.” In other words, it is the declaring of God’s truth and being nourished in His Word, which make one a good minister.
But there will always be challenges to one’s commitment to the truth that must be decisively dealt with. So Paul admonished, “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables”. “Fables” are myths or folk tales that are not founded on facts; “old wives’ fables” denote legends and folk tales, such as those found abundantly in heathen religions. There were also many Jewish fables which were contrary to the Word of God. Paul calls them “profane”, for they are blasphemous or impious in their character. They are devoid of truth and godliness. In 1 Timothy 1:4, Paul warned, “Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.” To Titus, he wrote, “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth” (Titus 1:14).
Paul’s counsel to Timothy was to “refuse” them all. Christians must not entertain any unbiblical, superstitious stories. They have nothing to do with such baseless stories. Giving heed to such vain stories will have severe consequences. In 2 Timothy 2:16, Paul warned, “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.” Paul further warned that in the last days, many “shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:4).
Not only should one refuse such unprofitable, unfounded stories and claims that are being circulated, one must also “exercise thyself rather unto godliness”. Instead of wasting our time and efforts in conversations and friendships that corrupt us, we ought rather to pay attention to that which tends to piety and holiness. Let us seriously consider our progress in true godliness and give ourselves only to that which advances our piety.