“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace…” (2 Timothy 2:22)
I wonder if when Timothy read the letter’s Paul wrote to him he ever thought to himself, “Doesn’t he think I know that”? You might think after almost twenty years of ministering together, Paul wouldn’t need to repeat what should be so obvious. But that’s the point; there are some things that always need repeating. To understand this passage it’s important to understand the context in which Paul wrote 2 Timothy, his last letter before his death. He chose to write Timothy, for one reason, he loved him as a son, but also because it was Timothy that Paul would entrust to “guard the good deposit” (2 Timothy 1:14), the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul wrote to encourage Timothy to carry on in faithful ministry, but also, in a sense to provide him a roadmap on how to proceed in doing so. He encouraged Timothy to use the gifts God had given him, to not be ashamed of the gospel or let it become corrupted under the influence of false teachers. Using analogies such as a good soldier, an athlete and a hard working farmer, Paul wrote of what should characterize a servant of Christ. He told Timothy that how he presented himself to God mattered, that in ministry it is not only about what you are, but more importantly, who you are, “a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21). So, how does one remain an honorable vessel?
“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” The “youthful passions” Paul was thinking of were impatience, partiality, rashness and an argumentative spirit. This was and is not the prescribed way to win people to Christ. On the other hand, Paul knew a righteous life, faithfulness, loving compassion for others and composure in the midst of conflict characterized one who truly called on the Lord from a pure heart. God’s grace is never a reason not to flee the things we should or pursue things we ought. At the end of his life and ministry, Paul could be found repeating what he said many times. Timothy may have gotten tired of hearing it and perhaps we do as well, but we need to be reminded of those things we need to flee and that which we should pursue daily because our tendency is to forget it. We can never take lightly God’s call to be holy. The cross deserves nothing less. But neither are we to forget the manner in which we minister to an unbelieving world, first and foremost with the Truth, but also with a patient and loving spirit. If we think daily on what the cross meant for us, and flee and pursue what God has told us to, by His grace and through His power this is possible, because with God, all things are.
Father, thank You for Your grace as I seek to live out Your will for my life. It’s easy in my sinfulness to think I can move beyond the cross and beyond Your Word. I can’t! Give me the desire to seek You constantly and conform my will to Yours and to run to and run from the things You have said. Keep me guarded in Your Truth as I minister to others and help me to love them as You love me. Amen!