Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Flee and pursue - 1st Timothy 6:11-16

"But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time — He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen." (1 Timothy 6:11-16)
As he closes his letter to Timothy, Paul commands Timothy, before God and Jesus Christ, to "keep the commandment" until the very end. But what commandment is Paul talking about? The Greek article here translated as "the" can also be translated as "this". It is my believe that Paul was referring to the command he just gave Timothy, that is to flea from this and to pursue that and, in the process, to fight for that which Jesus came to give him. When summing up all that he wished for Timothy, this was it, that he would flea the world and sin and pursue God and His righteousness.

The Christian life is a journey, a journey from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of light, a journey in which we must flea our old life and pursue our new life in Christ. Those who stand still are not living the Christian life. There is always motion in the Christian life, a motion that increases our distance from some things and draws us closer to others. In fine, Paul enumerates some of those things we are to flee and some of the things we are to pursue.

Flee: Love of money, envy, strife, railings, evil suspicion, and constant friction.
Pursue: Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.

Paul further command's Timothy to "fight the good fight of faith." The fight of faith is not the fight to believe, but the fight to receive the things we have believed for. It is the same fight Abraham was engaged in when he fought the fight of faith for the birth of his son. "Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform." (Romans 4:19-21) Abraham's fight was not a fight to believe God, for he already had accounted His willing and able to perform what He had promised. It was a fight against circumstances and temptations that stood in his way of obtaining what God had promised. It was a fight against discouragement, weariness, and the constant temptation to return to his old life. Yet Abraham remained strong, endured the many years, and, in the end, received what God had promised. This is the same fight we are in and the same fight God is calling us to win!

This fight of faith is also a fight that not only waits for eternal life but attempts to make its benefits own, even in the here and now. It is a fight that grabs hold of what is ahead and enjoys it in the present. In eternal life there awaits for us joy, wholeness, peace, and health. Those who fight the fight of faith contend to make those things part of their everyday life, to experience joy, wholeness, peace, and heath here on earth, knowing that eternity starts now, not at some distant time in the future. They are like those of whom the writer of Hebrews says they have "tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come." (Hebrews 6:5) Those who live such a life, a life of fleeing, pursuing, and fighting, are those whom live lives worthy of Christ!

David Robison

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