At the Iowa State Track and Field Meet at Drake Stadium, runners don’t run away from anything, but they run after the victor’s prize. 

In 1 Timothy 6:11, Paul instructs his “true child in the faith” to do both. “But flee from these things (the quest for great gain primarily through proclaiming heresy and pretending to be holy), you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” The apostle issued a twofold command with particular relevance to a young pastor that has practical significance for all of God’s children.

Paul warned Timothy, who pastored the church in Ephesus, and he warns every religious teacher after him against teaching unbiblical doctrine that appeals to the masses in order to scam unsuspecting seekers for a big profit. But Paul’s double-barreled command has implications and application for every “man or woman of God” as well.

To be “of God” means to be one of His children “in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2) like Timothy was. Jesus told us that when we receive/believe in Him “we have the right to become the children of God.” (John 1:12)

God’s children should run away from the “love of money” which causes pain (1 Timothy 6:10) and run after what is spiritually profitable—“righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” Paul’s condemnation of loving money and commendation of living godly is as counter-cultural today as it was then.

“Pursue” means intentional and intense striving. We pursue bargains, physical fitness, financial success, and relational acceptance. Do we strive with such intensity to be righteous and godly by doing what God’s word commands and avoiding what He forbids? Does social media, societal norms, and subjective standards, or Scripture provide our moral compass?

Pursuit of these virtues requires the internal working of God’s Spirit, intentional effort to partake of and practice God’s Word and individual choice regarding what activities will help or hinder our progress.

Will we direct our eyes and ears towards what God says is right and good on social media, TV, and the radio? Will we decide to give and serve, trusting God for results? Will we choose to love others putting their needs and wants above our own? Will we resolve to remain a follower of God despite rejection and/or persecution? Will we determine to react and relate with gentleness or respond with gruffness?

Only one life, the still small voice, Gently pleads for a better choice, Bidding me selfish aims to leave, and to God’s holy will to cleave; Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.” -C.T. Studd

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