Saturday, 7 April 2018
Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22
Paul has noted that ministers are to “depart from iniquity” (2:19). He then brought in the idea of vessels of gold, silver, wood, and clay, noting that when properly cleansed, they will be vessels for honor which are “sanctified and useful for the Master.” Now, he continues with an exhortation that ministers are to “Flee also youthful lusts.” This ties in well with his thought of 1 Corinthians 6:8. There he says, “Flee sexual immorality.”
Youthful lusts are not wholly sexual in nature, but that is certainly a large part of what is on a young man’s mind. Along with that target, come all the things associated with it – cars, fancy clothes, etc., which are intended to attain the goal of meeting the sexual desires that have been formed. Paul would have Timothy, and certainly all in the church, to flee from such things. They turn our minds from what is good, proper, and holy. Further, such lusts, when acted out, inevitably will lead to scandals within the church which will not go unnoticed outside of the church. Instead of engaging one’s youthful lusts, he gives a list of things to pursue in its place, starting with “righteousness.”
The man of God is to pursue that which is right and just, that which harms no one else, and that which involves integrity and an upright attitude. He is to pursue the righteousness of Christ which is the epitome of all of these things.
Next, he mentions “faith.” Hebrews says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (11:1). We have a hope which is in us, even if we cannot see it. But our faith is evidenced in that we trust what is unseen, and when we live our lives in accord with that unseen force. If we believe that God will reward those who seek Him and live according to His will, then we should pursue that belief, increase it through our study of His word, and apply it to our daily walk. In other words, as we learn what His word says about Him, and what He expects of us, we should live out our faith in accord with that word.
Next, “love” is noted. The love spoken of here is beautifully described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13. We are to pursue love of God, love of Christ Jesus, love of our brethren, and love for the lost. In pursuing love, we will learn to put aside hate, bitterness, wrath, and the like.
Paul then says that we are to pursue “peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” In Romans 12:18, Paul says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” In Titus 3:2, he says “to be peaceable.” Each of these leaves it open to understanding that not all want peace with God’s people. Some are so perverse that they will neither accept peace, nor will they act peaceably. There is no need to seek peace with such perverse people. If we live peaceably, and if we act in a peaceable manner, we have done our job towards those outside the faith. For those in the faith, we are to pursue peace with them “out of a pure heart.” This means that we are to act in peace towards them for the sake of peace itself, not with ulterior motives, such as profit or gain.
Life application: To flee is an active action. To pursue is an active action as well. We are not just to bumble through life allowing the winds to direct our steps. Instead, we are to actively shun and run away from that which is wrong, and we are to actively seek after, and pursue, that which is morally right and sound. Let us remember this as we hit the highway of life. May our feet actively do what our mind knows is right.
Lord God, Your word asks us to flee youthful lusts, and instead to pursue righteousness, faith, and love. We are also to do our best to live peaceably with all men. Help us in this! It is a giant challenge to act upon in these fallen, frail bodies. We are weak in ourselves, but through studying Your word and applying it to our lives, we can certainly prevail. Be with us, guide us, and keep us from those situations which will have us act in a manner contrary to what You wish. May we be found acceptable in Your sight always! Amen.