“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.” (1 Timothy 6:11-12)
In the past few months, news media outlets have been reporting an escalation of armed conflicts in different parts of the globe: Ukraine, Palestine, and lately Yemen.
We live in a world that has always been involved in bloody wars that have killed millions and destroyed entire countries, economies, and livelihoods.
Paul lived during a time when the Roman Empire was ruling the known world, and they came to power by waging war. To the people of the first century, the call to fight, flee, and pursue was not something unfamiliar.
In 1 Timothy 6:11-21, Paul is giving his final considerations to Timothy, and he tells his disciple that as a man of God, he must flee from the love of money, avoid the sins of false teachers, and pursue a godly life.
Fleeing and pursuing requires a conscientious effort; it is a striving away from the dangers of one to the safety of the other; by fleeing from one, Timothy is to pursue purity, faith, gentleness, and persevere in this pursuit.
The call to fight for the faith, without a doubt, is a call to keep the word of God free of errors, but given the immediate context, it is also a call to fight for personal purity.
J. C. Ryle, a pastor in the UK at the end of the 18th century, said three things about this passage: 1) True Christianity is a fight, and the true Christian is a soldier. 2) True Christianity is the fight of faith. 3) True Christianity is a good fight because we are not fighting alone; the victory has already been won even though we are still fighting in the trenches.
While fighting, Timothy is to hold fast to the eternal life that has been given to him by the God who dwells in an unapproachable light, engage in the spiritual fight for holiness, and keep the Gospel unstained, meaning free from errors.
Likewise, all those whom God has called to salvation are engaged in this fight for purity and against spiritual forces, whether we are aware of this or not. Sons and daughters of God are known for what they flee from (the love for this world and money) and for what they pursue (holiness and godliness).
As the people of God, we are at war with our sinful hearts, the weakness of the flesh, against the forces of the Devil that seek to pervert the truth and keep us busy with the affairs and concerns of the present life while neglecting the one thing that truly matters, the pursuit of God.
May the God whom no one has ever seen or can see and who is the sovereign king of kings and Lord of Lords help us persevere in the good fight of faith for our own sake and his glory.