In my personal devotions, Bible reading, theological study and just listening to other preachers over coffee or through podcasts across the Internet, I’ve noticed many references to the two epistles directed to Timothy from Paul.
I noticed this as a pattern so I was beginning to trust that God was trying to direct me to these two books in the Bible for my own growth and encouragement. What sealed the deal for me was, again, noticing a repetition. I found it in a Charter Communications advertisement on television where the lead character in the ad was a 10 year boy by the name of, you guessed it, Timothy (My favorite part is when the boy is internally rejoicing over the speed of his internet connection and it ultimately will lead to the world knowing his name, “Timothy! Timothy!” Ah, he said it twice. Two epistles? By accident? I think not.)
Anyway, in reading the two letters to Timothy in the New International Version, I found an interesting coincidence. In 1 Timothy 6: 11 & 2 Timothy 2: 22, Paul uses two verbs identically to convey similar meanings without the verses themselves being identical (Does that make sense?). Anyway, the two verbs are flee and pursue. The two verses go like this:
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. – 1 Timothy 6: 11
Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. – 2 Timothy 2: 22
Flee, to me, means run away. These two passages direct Timothy to flee from lusts and other unrighteous behaviors that will cause harm for him. Pursue, to me, means run after to capture. As for this, Timothy is encouraged to pursue righteousness, faith & love.
These verses tell us in a straight forward manner to run away from those behaviors, beliefs and ungodly pursuits that corrupt our relationship with God and to run after the many life-giving principles conveyed through scripture and a Christian lifestyle.
When I was a kid I enjoyed playing Tag and all of its complex variations. It was all right to be chased. I preferred to be the chaser. Paul’s word to his young son in the faith to flee all the greed and desires that corrupt is important. In this season I will prayerfully listen for the Spirit’s direction in fleeing “from all this.” I will, also, with a bit more passion, listen for the Spirit’s guidance in running after, pursuing, righteousness, faith & love so that my discipleship grows in power and commitment to bring glory to God and to be a conduit of grace to the hurting I encounter. Join with me in this.
Finally, this effort to flee that which is sinful and to pursue that which is life-giving CANNOT TO DONE PASSIVELY. Passive Christianity is weak and lukewarm and will not bare the fruit we most urgently desire – lives changed eternally by the work of God through us. Isn’t that your desire? Isn’t that your passion? If not, then you know where you need to begin your Lenten discipline – repentance of apathy in the work of God in and through you.
Join with me in aggressively pursuing through worship, prayer & study the fullness of a relationship with our God who longs for a people completely surrendered to His will.
Have a blessed & productive season of Lent.