The end of 2012 is upon us. My, that was fast, at least for me. Maybe for you it seemed like it would never end. A great deal has happened for each of us in the past year. Some have suffered great tragedy others not. Some have tasted success, others not so much. We all have probably touched on sickness, health, prosperity and poverty, personal, relational and spiritual growth or feeling as if we took a step or two backwards.
The world’s view is somewhat depressing – Out of the top 10 Reuters news stories for 2012 – four were tragic shootings, one was the advancement of the homosexual agenda by the president, another dealt with a disgraced college football program, and the rest dealt with the death or failures of celebrities. Of course, the Mayans were in error as well; we are still here.
Regardless of the year we have had, the future is ahead. We can learn from the past, enjoy or regret it, we cannot change it and we should not let it control us. We may be trapped; we need not remain so. We may be down and struggling, we will not be forever. Whatever our lot, we can learn to say, it is well with my soul through Jesus Christ.
I am not a big resolution fan, however in 1 Timothy 6:11 we can gain great insight and some excellent goals, from Paul’s words to his young spiritual son.
But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
This applies to you and me – Man (woman or child) of God – if Jesus is your savior and Lord you are a child of God, regardless of your personal opinion of yourself. God is not finished yet and He will complete the work began in you, so do not despair. (Ephesians 2:10)
A good question to consider as we enter a new year is what are we known as we leave the presence of others. A man of business, man of the world, a harsh man, a selfish man, a flirt, perhaps judgmental, or as a man of God? What would we like to be known as by others? How do we get there if we are not where we want to be?
Paul instructs Timothy in this verse to, “Flee these things.” Sometimes in Scripture we are told to stand and fight, resist and overcome, other times we are told to run – here it is to run, escape, and get out now. The context is the entire chapter and Paul tells Timothy basically two things – do not fuss and fight about meaningless words, and do not be consumed with wealth or pursuing it.
Many men limit their enjoyment and pursuits (flee from) for far lesser goals than being a man of God- students, athletes, business owners, dieters all limit themselves in order to make some sort of gain – better grades, less body fat and improved abilities, more money and market share and a smaller physical size. While none of these is bad, they pale in comparison to the list Paul gives to Timothy to pursue. Pursue here means to chase hard after, like a hunter pursing his prey, pursue with all haste. In other words, put out some major effort to accomplish the goal.
Here are the six things Paul tells Timothy to pursue, and we would do well to do the same in 2013:
Righteousness – not in view of sin for that is already under the blood of our Savior, but in the daily choices of our behavior – We seek the smile of the Judge. We know what He wants and we choose to do it. For example: Rejoice in all things, put away slander and malice, be kind one to another, keep silent, put on compassion, put off darkness, make the best use of your time, etc.
Godliness -What He calls sacred, we value as so. Includes the concept of holiness, morality, our value system. Our heart aligns with His. We learn to desire what He expresses as important.
Faith – Experiential faith, we grow and learn, and this is the door to pleasing God, for Hebrews 11:6 states that without faith we cannot please Him. In addition, when we live by and in faith, we will learn to stop complaining. While we may not understand all that happens, we know the One that does, and we trust Him completely. We will walk in trust and we will be able to extinguish the flaming darts of our foe with the shield of faith.
Love – This is the love described in 1 Corinthians 13 and is accomplished by Christ’s grace working through us. Read this love chapter and ask the Lord to help you walk this out in your homes, cars, workplace, and the church.
Steadfastness – We are not easily shaken nor do we give up quickly. Those who endure receive the crown. Endurance under trial and patience under suffering is the goal here. We do not quit, ever.
Gentleness – we serve, not demand. We know Whose we are and we do not have to exert our personal advancement. In fact, we live like our Master who demonstrated greatness by becoming a servant to all. The word here is meekness which usually means, strength under control. Gentleness is not a synonym for wimp, but for humility.
These six things are worth pursuing during 2013 and beyond. Here is a summary sentence using the concepts –
We flee from greed, arguments, controversy, friction and we pursue God’s agenda through faith, motivated by love, having patience with all through His gentle strength empowering us.
Now, that is a goal for 2013 worth pursuing.
Where do we start? How about with those closest to us? Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you with the desire to pursue and live out these six traits with those that know you the best. Seek to become what you want people to say about you as you leave their presence – I want folks to say, there goes Jeff…he is God’s man. How about you? What do you want folks to say about you as you leave?