Friday, 16 February 2018
But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:11
In verses 9 & 10, Paul relayed words to Timothy which concerned those people who followed after riches instead of pursuing Christ. His words spoke of some who had actually strayed from the faith at that early time in church history. In contrast to taking such a sad and painful path, he now addresses Timothy directly with, “But you, O man of God.”
Paul knew Timothy well enough that he could confidently call him a “man of God.” He had proven himself faithful, and he was a faithful servant of the Lord. However, Paul still says, “But…” This shows us that Timothy was not above turning to such things as Paul had just mentioned. Paul himself spoke of the inward desires which warred in him in 2 Corinthians 11:29. There was nothing “super spiritual” about these men of God, and they were not above falling into temptation. This is the reason for the warning and admonition now given. Paul tells Timothy to “flee these things.”
Those things which are harmful to a right walk with the Lord, meaning those things which he has just described concerning loving money and pursuing worldly wealth, were to be fled from. Fleeing is an active action. Timothy wasn’t simply told to not pursue those things, but to flee from them. He was to put a distance between himself and such things, and to continue to increase that distance at all times. And while fleeing from those things, at the same time he is instructed to “pursue righteousness.”
Timothy (and each of us) don’t have to simply flee from unhealthy desires, but while doing so, we can pursue that which is proper at the same time. This same basic sentiment is found in Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” In pursuing righteousness, the desires of worldly gain will be lessened. One overcomes the other. The righteousness which Paul speaks of is that of which God is the Source. It is a divine righteous which comes with the approval of God as one pursues it.
Along with this, Paul tells him to pursue “godliness.” This is the “inner response to the things of God which shows itself in godly piety” (HELPS Word Studies). It is a godly response of the heart to those things God is pleased with.
Likewise, Timothy is instructed to pursue “faith.” The word signifies being persuaded. It is not the same as belief, but the two are similar. Hebrews 11:1 says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This is something that Timothy is charged to pursue, and it is something that every believer is to pursue as well.
Next Paul adds in “love.” The word signifies love which centers in moral preference. In this case Paul is certainly referring to divine love. In pursuing this, the believer will then be able to live out that which is attained through pursuit. To understand what this means, Paul’s words of 1 Corinthians 13 should be referred to.
Following love, Paul instructs him to pursue “patience.” The word signifies endurance and steadfastness. This is especially because God makes it possible for the believer to endure those challenges which are allotted to us in this life. Paul has noted Timothy’s infirmity already (1 Timothy 5:23). He gave him advice concerning it, but here he adds to that (and indeed any challenge) by telling Timothy to pursue endurance in and through such things.
And finally, Paul notes “gentleness.” The word signifies “meekness which expresses power with reserve and gentleness” (HELPS Word Studies). Timothy is in a position of authority, and yet he is to wield that authority in a meek and gentle manner. Where he could be severe, he should consider being mild.
Paul’s words to Timothy are to keep him on the right path, and to keep him from desiring that which is unhealthy and unproductive in his life as a minister, a man, and a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Life application: Though Timothy was in a position of authority in the church, the same words of this verse can (and should) be applied to our own lives as we live in the presence of the Lord. In pursuing these noble things, we will be restrained from pursuing that which is contrary to what God would desire for us.
Lord God, help us to live our lives in a way which is pleasing to You. Give us the wisdom to flee that which is unhealthy, and to pursue that which is noble, righteous, and godly. Help us to understand that we are not above falling into temptation, and to always fix our eyes, our hearts, and our attention, on that which is good. To Your glory we pray. Amen.