Good morning everyone, my name’s Bryony and today on the Foundations Podcast we are looking at 1 Timothy 6:11-16.
I will read the whole passage at the end of the podcast but this morning I’m going to focus on the first two verses.
This week we’ve seen Paul giving Timothy some very specific advice and tips, we looked at his instruction about leaders, dealing with slaves, drinking wine and yesterday money. Paul particularly warns about being influenced by those who would do the opposite of what God desires. And so as he writes he continues:
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
The thing that struck me about these words is how active they are. ‘Flee’, ‘pursue’, ‘fight’ and ‘take hold’. These are all active words that speak to Timothy’s need to be intentional about not falling away from Jesus and the things he has learnt. Paul is acknowledging the challenge Timothy will face in leading this life and leading others in this way. It will be hard, it will take effort. This is a coach speaking here, Paul is spurring Timothy on reminding him that he’s got this, he can do it!
I had learnt percussion when I was a teenager. As I slowly got better I entered competitions and exams. These required a lot of practice. My teacher, a wonderful man called Martin King, would set me exercises each week. These were to be completed on a practice pad, basically a rubber pad which mimicked the feel of a snare drum without inflicting the noise on my parents! I had to spend hours getting to grips with the perfect paradiddle or swiss army triple. Martin would encourage me to get the sticking perfect. When he taught me how to play the timpani he was meticulous in making sure I tuned them just right and knew how to change the pitch mid-piece. All of the hours and hours of practice, of fine tuning, of Martin spurring me on when I felt like giving up, enabled me to go onto stage and rest in the knowledge I’d prepared well and could enjoy the performance. Martin encouraged me to keep going and exposed me to musical experiences that lifted my eyes. I even once attended a masterclass in triangle playing just to perfect my technique on that tiny instrument! To become the percussionist I wanted to be took work, I had to be intentional, I had to have a goal and I had to choose practice over other things.
The walk of the disciple takes similar intention and work. We need to turn from other distractions, to set our eyes on Jesus. Paul is clear to Timothy that there will always be the option and the opportunity to turn away from Jesus. But Paul says: flee from the things that distract us and press on into the good stuff, the things that bring us life. Press into Jesus and the life we were called to.
Sometimes staying close to Jesus can feel like those difficult days of percussion practice – everything feels like an effort. My prayer life doesn’t come naturally or the Bible seems more difficult to read. Even listening to the podcast (which is so simple to do) can feel like another chore to check off the list. On those days there’s every opportunity to throw the towel in. That’s when we need people around us who, like Timothy and Paul, spur us on, remind us of the end goal. Remind us of the riches we can find in our relationship with Jesus. Like Timothy we need to ‘Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called’ – I was reminded of this during Holy Week this year, It’s so easy to forget what God has done in our lives, we can get so bogged down in all the ‘doing’ that we forget the ‘why’, and then it’s very easy to become disheartened or distracted.
Paul instructs Timothy to flee from the people and things that are not helpful to his faith. I wonder what those things are for us today? Maybe a situation at work where we are drawn into gossip. Maybe we find ourself listening to, reading or watching unhelpful things. Paul’s instruction isn’t to dwell in these places but simply to flee. We are to flee but also to take hold, to take hold of the good, the things that will enable us to to walk closer to Jesus. I wonder what those things are for us today? Maybe it’s spending time with someone who we know encourages us in our faith? Maybe it’s giving ourselves a technology curfew to create more time for reading, listening to worship music or prayer? Maybe it’s the very practical thing of getting our giving sorted out so that we are actively choosing God first with our finances? There are lots of things we probably need to flee and lots of things to take hold of today, let’s pray for God to lead us towards the challenge and invitation he has for us this day.
Thank you Jesus for these words which remind us that the walk of a disciple takes intention and focus. Help us also remember that by your Spirit and your love we are equipped to face these challenges and take hold of the fullness of life you are offering us. Thank you that you are our biggest supporter, spurring us on to the end. Amen.
READING: 1 Timothy 6:11-16
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time – God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honour and might for ever. Amen.