I was studying 1Timothy 6 and a friend suggested I read this book entitled “A long obedience in the same direction,” by Eugene Peterson. There is a passage that really stands out: It says, “One aspect of world that I have been able to identify as harmful to Christians is the assumption that anything worthwhile can be acquired at once. We assume that if something can be done at all, it can be done quickly and efficiently. Our attention spans have been conditioned by thirty-second commercials. Our sense of reality has been flattened by thirty-page abridgments. It is not difficult in such a world to get a person interested in the message of the gospel; it is terrifically
difficult to sustain the interest. Millions of people in our culture make decisions for Christ, but there is a dreadful attrition rate. Many claim to be
born again, but the evidence for mature Christian discipleship is slim. In our kind of culture anything, even news about God, can be sold if it is packaged freshly; but when it loses its novelty, it goes on the garbage heap. There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long
apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.” I don’t think that could have been stated more plainly if I had attempted to write these words myself. It is very concise and powerful! He makes it very plain that the Christian life is not a hundred-yard dash; it’s a marathon, it’s a “long obedience in the same direction.” Starting well is easy; finishing well is another matter. We all will encounter numerous hindrances. But, those whose burden has been lifted at the cross will persevere. If you’ll notice, in the final section of 1 Timothy 6, Paul tells Timothy and us how to go the distance. Timothy found himself in a difficult situation that was seemingly not suited for his timid personality. He had to confront the false
teachers who had arisen among the Ephesians’ leaders by refuting their errors and by teaching the truth. No doubt he was catching flak from many in the church who had been led astray by these men and their errors. So Paul, like a coach at half time in a rough game, reminds Timothy of the game plan and challenges him to hang in there, even though it’s not easy. He gives four commands in verses 11 & 12 that I believe are pillars for perseverance: Flee; pursue; fight; and, take hold. In other words, to persevere, a man or woman of God will flee worldliness, pursue godliness, fight for the faith, and take hold of eternal life. The title, “man of God” is used in the Old Testament of men like Moses, Samuel, Elijah, David, and a few prophets. It means a man who belongs wholly to
God, who follows God’s Word in every aspect of life. A man or woman of God has a certain dignity and aura about them so that when you’re with them, you sense the presence of God, because their life is so entwined with God. There’s no greater title that any Christian can covet for himself or herself than to be called a man or woman of God! But it doesn’t happen automatically! To be a man or woman of God, you must resolve to stand against the tide. You must flee worldliness, pursue godliness, fight for the faith, and take hold of eternal life. Can you
imagine a coach saying, “Listen, team, the men on the other team are big and tough. When they come at you, I want you to turn tail and flee!” You don’t win by fleeing, do you? But Paul knew that there are times when the way to victory is to flee, not to fight. In 1Corinthians 6:18, we’re commanded to flee immorality, in 1 Corinthians 10:14, idolatry, 2 Timothy 2:22 youthful lusts
and, here, to flee the love of money and false doctrine; but, James 4:7 tells us to resist the devil and he will flee from us. So we need to know when to fight and when to flee! I am a little ashamed to say that earlier in my ministry; I promoted some of false teaching, especially on prosperity and self-esteem. I am so thankful God graciously opened my eyes to it, in part, through my reading of
the Word and sitting under “Seasoned” teachers. I know now, whenever a teaching appeals to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes or the boastful pride of life, we need to take off as fast as we can in the opposite direction. To persevere in the Christian life, the man or woman of God must flee
In closing, we aren’t just to run from worldliness, but also to run to these six character qualities. When I researched the word “pursue” it is sometimes translated “persecute”; it has the nuance of eagerly going after something. It implies
effort, diligence, and determination. In other words, you won’t accidentally attain these qualities by hanging around church buildings long enough. You’ve got to go after them deliberately over the long haul. They are:
1. Pursue righteousness: Here the word refers to conformity to the standards of God’s Word.
2. Pursue Godliness: The word is closely related to righteousness. It has the nuance of reverence or awe in God’s presence. A godly person lives with an awareness of God’s holy presence, and so
he fears God and flees from sin. As we saw in 4:7-8, we must discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness. You won’t roll out of bed some morning and find out that you magically attained it overnight. You won’t get it by going
to a spiritual conference or having some emotional experience. You have to diligently discipline yourself to pursue godliness.
3. Pursue Faith: This refers to the trust in God that consciously relies on Him in every situation of
4. Pursue Love: We often have the mistaken notion that love just flows effortlessly. If we have to work at it, it must not be love. But why would the Bible so often command us to love one
another if it didn’t require diligent effort?
5. Pursue perseverance: The word is not “patience” (putting up with difficult people ha ha), but perseverance or steadfastness, which means bearing up under difficult circumstances. We only can pursue perseverance by daily trusting in God as we hope in the promise of His coming and the blessings we will enjoy throughout eternity with
6. Pursue Gentleness: The word doesn’t mean meekness in the sense of weakness. Timid Timothy wouldn’t need to pursue that quality, since he seemed to have plenty of it! Rather, it means
strength under control.
Maybe there have been times in your walk as a believer where you’ve fallen and became
discouraged. God wants you to stand upright again and to sink down roots so that you can weather the storms ahead. The roots that you need to persevere are to flee worldliness, to pursue godliness, to fight for the faith, and to take hold of the eternal life to which He has called you. Will it be easy? No! Fleeing, pursuing, fighting, and taking hold all imply hardship and effort. But with Paul, Timothy, and many others who have gone before, God will give you strength to go the distance as you seek to obey His Word.
Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, empower me to trust you in all circumstances of life. In Jesus Name, Amen!”
One Simple Nugget: "What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight - it's the size of the fight in the dog." General Dwight
All my love and prayers,
Minister Dorothy King