“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:11-12
Paul tells Timothy just before this passage to be content, that “godliness with contentment is great gain” but to desire to be rich is a snare, a trap that can lead you away. Then he commands Timothy to flee these things and pursue traits that represent/exhibit Christ. Flee, Pursue, Fight, Take Hold. All imperative sentences in the present tense – these actions must take place today. And once you wake tomorrow, they must take place tomorrow.
Over and over Paul refers to this fight, race, this ongoing engagement in working out our faith in the day. It is a fight – it is an awareness and an active engagement in walking with Him. My eyes so quickly slip off of Him and onto my circumstances – I am so much like Peter, looking and becoming overwhelmed by the water surrounding my feet, quickly sinking in panic. And what I sink for is really quite pathetic-
I can sink for upset toddlers and preschoolers throwing fits at 5 o’clock;
I can sink for fear of college tuitions;
I can sink for water leaks and renovations gone wrong;
I can sink for sickness;
I can sink for just about anything not going my way.
I look at the list Paul notes of what to pursue and what strikes me the most are steadfastness and gentleness. What a combination! Neither of these characterize me lately. Steadfast – Merriam-Webster defines this as firmly fixed in place, not subject to change; denotes a warrior who stands his ground in a battle context. I struggle with steadfastness in the moments. Oh I can verbalize the knowledge that He is enough, sovereign, in control and trustworthy but truthfully, in the moments, I struggle with being a warrior who stands her ground. Sometimes I almost think I deserve a moment to freak out, panic, lose it, whatever phrase I want to attach to not trusting; but I am to flee those things. Most everything that rocks my world can be rooted back to a love of myself, my comfort, my wealth or ease of life. Hardship is uncomfortable and stretching. It hurts. It will demand from me all that is me, but He wants to exchange me, my flesh with His fruit.
And gentleness – that is often the opposite of my response! I am impatient, rude, self seeking or self protecting, antagonistic when I am stretched. And sometimes I am passive. But to be gentle in these tough moments, to remember Who is in control, Whose I am, what Jesus has done for me at the cross, and to pursue these responses, that becomes my aim. The grace of the presence of the Holy Spirit and the power that comes from standing actively with His shield of faith and His sword in this battle – that is my protection and my posture. This is why this is a fight! It’s not easy, natural or automatic.
But to remember the Gospel in the moments, that is faith.