Theme: On Not Giving Up
In this week’s lessons, we see that the Christian life is one of warfare, in which we are called to flee from unrighteousness, and pursue that which is pleasing to God.
Scripture: 1 Timothy 6:11, 12
Sometimes we might get into situations where it really hurts us to do what’s right. But we must do it because that is exactly what Jesus Christ calls us to do. The newspapers are filled with stories about people getting caught doing something wrong. They had a choice do right or wrong, and they chose the wrong. We wonder how in the world they could possibly make such a bad decision that was almost certain to be discovered and land them in a lot of trouble. Yet, Christians are too often unwilling to stand for righteousness themselves if they think they might have to pay a price for their obedience to God. But Paul tells us to pursue righteousness. Turn your back on ungodliness. Be known as men and women of integrity.
All these things that Paul is telling us to pursue are Godlike qualities. If you have any question in any situation, stop and ask, “What is God like?” And then you make your choice on the basis of what you know of God’s character. Besides righteousness and godliness, Paul also tells Timothy to pursue faith. By this he probably means faithfulness, to the Lord and to each other. We should be men and women who can be trusted. When we are given a task can we be counted on to do it? Paul also mentions love, which is the greatest of all the virtues. He also lists endurance because sometimes you have to hang in there month after month, year after year doing what has to be done. And then, finally, isn’t it interesting that he throws in gentleness. In a section on spiritual warfare we are to be gentle in how we deal with other people.
I said earlier that our model should be that of God’s character. This is a sober charge Paul is giving to Timothy, as he writes in verse 13, “In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate, made the good confession…” If Timothy grows discouraged in his ministry, if he is trying to endure in a difficult situation as he fights the good fight, and is inclined to back down, Paul urges him not to give up. Rather, Timothy is to look to the example of Jesus Christ before Pilate, but beyond this to the conquest of Jesus Christ, who alone gives resurrection life.
I am sure that in the history of the battles of this world, there have been many battles won because the soldiers, although they were weary and although they doubted that they could go another step or fight for another moment, nevertheless believed that their commander was going to win. Knowing that they wanted to be there at the time of the victory, they identified themselves with him and pressed on. How much more is this true for Christians! We are in the greatest battle of all time—a battle of good and evil, the forces of God against the force of Satan, and the forces of God are triumphant. Jesus Christ has won, and will one day come again. With that kind of a commander, how can you back down? How can you fail to endure? And so Paul is exhorting Timothy to press on. We need to press on as well, no matter the cost.
In verse 17 Paul again has instructions for the rich, and then in verse 20 he resumes his personal remarks to Timothy. Why is he dealing with the rich and Timothy again? What’s new about these verses? I think what’s new is that, with regard to the rich, earlier he was warning against the dangers of wealth. Now he’s talking to those who already are wealthy. He’s warning them to be careful what they do with it. And when he addresses Timothy personally again, he reminds Timothy that he is already in the battle. It’s not a matter of what Timothy will decide to do in the future, when the time comes to choose between engagement or neutrality in this spiritual battle. Paul tells him he is already participating as an active solider.
If you’re a Christian you’re already in the battle. You might be finding it difficult right now. You might feel like giving up and stopping to fight for righteousness, godliness, and those other things we need to practice and stand up for. But the Lord has put you in his army. He wants to use you. You’re either going to be a faithful soldier, or you’re going to be an unfaithful soldier. You’re either going to be a victor, or you’re going to be a failure. You can’t fight this good fight of the faith on your own, but the Lord Jesus Christ can give you the strength to be the victor. Ask him to strengthen you, and then fight on in the battle that he’s given you to fight.
For Further Study:
When faced with a decision to make in our Christian life, on what basis are we to make our choice?
In our spiritual battles, what instruction does Paul give to Timothy?
Prayer: If you are growing weary in your calling as a Christian soldier, ask the Lord to give you strength, encouragement, and victory. Is there someone you can encourage as they seek to live a godly life?
Key Point: We are in the greatest battle of all time—a battle of good and evil, the forces of God against the force of Satan, and the forces of God are triumphant. Jesus Christ has won, and will one day come again.