Prepare yourself to discern what is and what is not of God today. Still yourself so you can hear how God is calling you.
1 Timothy 6:11-12 (NRSV)
But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
I like Paul. He is one of the most colorful and influential characters from the New Testament. Arguably, he had the most dramatic transformation of anyone. Paul went from a zealous Jewish leader intent on stamping out Christianity (reference the stoning of Stephen) to become equally zealous in telling Christ’s story not only to his fellow Jews but to Gentiles, as well. He went from martyring Christians by having them killed to becoming a Christian martyr himself. That’s quite a story line.
Here, in his first letter to Timothy, Paul is providing sound advice on living the Christian life. Just prior to this section of verses, Paul writes one of the most recognizable and misquoted sentences in the New Testament: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil….” His point there was to warn followers of Christ about the pitfalls of earthly riches. Money in itself is not evil, but the love of it, the lust for it, can lead to evil. He also urged believers to be content with what they have. We came into the world with nothing and we take nothing with us when we leave.
This scripture above picks up after these admonitions. He is saying we shouldn’t spend our energies pursuing the wrong things in life. Instead we should “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.” He writes that we must “fight the good fight”—which, in his case, became a fight to the death. I can’t say that we will experience a fight to the death, but the good fight remains to be fought. This is a time when the United States is turning farther and farther away from our godly roots. Christians who stand for traditional values are being made into pariahs or laughed at for being “old fashioned” or “not progressive.” The fight is still with us. We must gird ourselves with the word of God. We must know what we are talking about in order to debate and counter the forces that want us to relegate God to the trash heap. Bottom line: We must understand the teachings of Christ, live by them, and not let the vagaries of popular culture sway our foundational beliefs. We must pick up the challenge and fight the good fight!
Dear Lord, give us the strength of character to stand for what we believe. Help us to understand fully your word and make it our foundation for living a righteous life. Defend us from the fickleness of our times and allow us to draw a line in the sand for you. Help us to fight that good fight. Amen.
Go with God.