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by Karen Burkhart
In under two months, my firstborn son, Tyler, will graduate from High School. Echoing the testimony of countless moms who’ve gone before, “I can’t believe it!” I can still picture him on his first day of kindergarten posing on top of the rock at Windermere Elementary. It just doesn’t seem possible that we’re already on top of this milestone.
Over the past several months, in anticipation of his graduation day, I’ve been thinking about ways to celebrate his accomplishments and launch him into the next chapter of his life. One idea I’ve had is to write him a song called, “Let’s Go!” If you know Tyler, you know that he’s always on the go and ready to seize every opportunity. His plans to study Aviation Sciences at OSU in hopes of one day becoming a fighter pilot in the US Air Force is certainly in keeping with that!
As much as I want Tyler to aim high and go after his vocational dreams, what I want him to pursue above all are the things highlighted in today’s Scripture: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. My son could become the best fighter pilot the world has ever seen and perform his job for the noblest of causes, but if he fails to fight “the good fight of the faith,” he will have missed his life’s real mission. So, if I ever get around to writing that song, I want its message to reflect that.
Returning to today's Scripture, did you notice how many imperatives were spoken by the apostle Paul to his understudy, Timothy? I counted five: flee, pursue, fight, take hold, and keep this command. My flesh doesn’t like these; I prefer a more passive approach, like having a Physical Therapist work out my muscle spasms rather than giving me a list of exercises to do at home. Nevertheless, I need to accept that the Christian life requires my active participation.
First, Paul urges Timothy to flee the bad stuff--outlined in the preceding verses as the love of money and wanting to get rich, which he described as harmful and foolish desires. But Paul didn’t want Timothy to flee in just any direction, he wanted him to run toward--to pursue--the good stuff. Paul knew that no one had ever stumbled into righteousness, faith, love, endurance, or gentleness, just as we know today that no one backs into a fighter pilot slot in the US Air Force. Every good thing, with the exception of salvation itself, must be pursued whole-heartedly.
Lest we confuse Paul's words as “salvation by works” message, it’s not. Paul isn’t talking about Timothy’s salvation; he’s talking about his progressive sanctification, which basically means to become more and more Christ-like. The more Christ-like we become, the more we will reflect His glory and become more useful in the Kingdom of God. Of course, this pursuit is powered by the Holy Spirit not by us.
Today, let’s embrace Paul's encouragement to Timothy to flee the harmful and foolish desires to get rich, and let’s go after the things that will make us look more like Christ. Maybe pursuing godliness today will look like turning off the TV and listening to the concerns of a family member instead. Or maybe pursuing gentleness today will mean surrendering your right to sternly correct an employee and offering to pray with them instead. I can’t tell you how to reorder your day to accomplish that, but I trust the Holy Spirit to show you.
Ready, set, let’s go!
Lord, if I'm honest, I've pursued a lot of foolish goals, even good things but without godly wisdom or restraint. Forgive me. Help me to reorder my life so that I spend my time, talent, and treasure in pursuit of godly traits that will cause others to wonder about the grace at work in me. Today, open my eyes to see how I can flee the love of money and pursue greater love for You and those You love.