“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace…”
(2 Timothy 2:22)
When Timothy read the letters Paul wrote to him, do you think ever asked himself, “Doesn’t he think I know that”? After almost twenty years of ministering together, one would think Paul wouldn’t need to repeat to Timothy instruction that should be so obvious. But that’s the point; there are some things that always need repeating.
Paul wrote 2 Timothy, his last letter before his death, to Timothy for one reason: he loved him as a son. It was Timothy that Paul would entrust to “guard the good deposit” (2 Timothy 1:14), the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote to encourage Timothy to carry on in faithful ministry, but also, Paul wrote to provide Timothy a roadmap on how to proceed in doing so.
Paul encouraged Timothy to use the gifts God had given him, to not be ashamed of the gospel, and to not let it become corrupted under the influence of false teachers. Paul encouraged Timothy to develop the character of a servant of Christ by using analogies such as a good soldier, an athlete and a hard working farmer.
Paul told Timothy that the way he presented himself to God mattered, that ministry is not only about what you are, but, more importantly, who you are: “a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).
How does one remain an honorable vessel?
“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
The “youthful passions” to which Paul referred were impatience, partiality, rashness and an argumentative spirit. These youthful passions are not the prescribed way to win people to Christ.
On the other hand, Paul did prescribe a righteous life:
- loving compassion for others
- composure in the midst of conflict
These actions and traits characterize one who truly calls on the Lord from a pure heart. God’s grace is never a reason not to flee the things we should or not to pursue things we ought.
At the end of his life and ministry, Paul could be found repeating what he said many times. Timothy may have gotten tired of hearing them and perhaps we do as well. But our tendency is to forget so we need to be reminded of things we are to flee and those we should daily pursue. We can never take lightly God’s call to be holy. The cross deserves nothing less. Neither are we to forget the manner in which we minister to an unbelieving world. First and foremost we minister with the Truth. We also minister with a patient and loving spirit.
When we think daily on what the cross means for us; when we flee “youthful passions” and pursue godly passions, by His grace and through His power ministry is possible. With God, all things are.