Passion is nearly uncontrollable. When you are passionate about something it consumes you until you respond in a way that satisfies that passion. Of all the geeky things I could do on a holiday, one of those things was to watch through the video’s on YouTube of Adam Savage from the Mythbusters describing his passionate fascination with the dodo bird, which lead him first to downloading every picture he could find of Dodo skeletons and ultimately to hand crafting every single bone of a dodo out of modeling clay and assembling it into a finished skeleton. Now, if you just ignore the relevance to the Bible question for a moment you might be prone to ask yourself, “what would cause a man to invest hundreds and hundreds of hours into researching and then accurately rebuilding a statue of an extinct bird just to satisfy his own curiosity?” The one word answer to that question is passion.
There’s nothing wrong with passion. It’s the objects of our passion that need to be checked. This morning as you open your Bibles to 1 Timothy 6:11-16 we are going to look at how to build a passionate pursuit of godliness into your life.
Instead of letting your life get wrapped up in things that are unworthy of your calling, it’s time to shift your priorities and make following Christ the most important priority you follow. So how can you do that? How can you fan into flame a passion for Jesus Christ? The answer to that question is laced through our text in the form of a series of four imperative verbs, four extremely strong commands to Timothy.
His first command to Timothy is that he flee from these things. The context of the statement includes all that has gone before in terms of describing the Ephesian heretics. Not merely the love of money and the consequent discontent but the worthless discussions, false theologies and petty bickering of the opponents as well. But it is probably the lust for wealth which he warns Timothy of more than anything else.
Remember Balaam who sold himself to the highest bidder. Remember Judas who sold Jesus for 30 silver coins. Remember Demas (2 Tim 4:10) who abandoned Paul because he had a lust for the things of the world.. Or what about Diotrophes in the book of 3 John who was so greedy for making a name for himself that he kicked out anyone who taught the word of God so that he could have the limelight.
What about you? Take a look into your life at all the tendencies you have to drift away from devotion and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember Joseph who though tempted daily to find pleasure in the arms of his master’s wife – literally ran away like a fugitive from justice in order to keep himself from sinning. Did he run because she was not attractive to him? No. I believe he ran because he knew he had a choice to either run like crazy or fall right then and there.
The same concept applies to you. Pursuing a passionate walk with God demands that you start by running pel-mel away from sin. It’s more than only the idea of what we are supposed to run away from but also what we are supposed to run toward.
To be in pursuit of something means that you have it in your sights and you’re working to getting there. The contrast which Timothy and thus also we are supposed to pursue is righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. These six targets encompass the whole being.
Righteousness and godliness describe our lives in action. For the Christian Righteousness comes from Jesus but it is exercised in our outward behavior. Godliness describes the actions that flow from having the right motives.
Faith and love describe the basic virtues that direct our life. Pursuing faith means laboring towards trusting God for all things. Pursuing love means fulfilling the greatest commandment to Love God and the second greatest to love your neighbor.
Perseverance and gentleness describe the way we walk this journey of faith with Christ Jesus. Christianity is hard work and it demands that we stick at it. For the word of God does say, that only those who persevere to the end will be saved. Truth faith, saving faith is marked by those who persevere. But just because we’re pushing on it doesn’t give us the right to be harsh and callously dogmatic.
Pursue Gentleness is the apostles final admonition. Let humility guide you in these things and gentleness will be the result.
When I used to have to give annual reviews of the employees who worked for me it was required that I would give them a series of goals to work toward in the coming year. And each successive year I was supposed to measure them against the prior goals I had set for them and which they had accepted. That of course meant that those employees needed to have those goals in front of them in order to pursue them.
These are your eternal goals. Try painting those words on the mirror you look into every morning when you get up. How clearly can you see these as goals for you to work towards. Quite honestly this describes your highest goals in life. Compare this list to your current stack of goals – how does it measure up?
You must pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. These are your goals place them in front of you.
The fourth imperative command in this section is to fight. First you have to flee, then you have to pursue and now you have to fight. We live at open warfare with Satan and as a result we have no choice but to fight.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:26 “… I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air…” Look at the list here before you in 1 Timothy 6:12. These are your orders to fight. Don’t just fight for something to do. The object you are fighting for is the faith.
Walking in faith is diametrically opposed to the way we want to live naturally. We want to believe in what we can see. We want to be self reliant. We want to provide all things for ourself. But God tells us to walk with him in Faith. We are called to trust in Christ to save us, to trust in the Holy Spirit to lead us, to trust in the Father to provide for us. We are called to walk through this life holding a hand we cannot see.
Around every corner is an opportunity to walk away, or to do things our own way without concern for God or his word. But we must go to war against sin and apathy in your own life. Do battle with the tendency to drift away from conservative faith. Pull the sword and cut off your own hand if that’s what it takes to maintain a walk with Jesus Christ.
You’re already in a war, it’s time to take part in it.
So far then we see that he says Run Away from sin. Chase after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. And Last of all he says “Get a Grip!” Look at the next part of verse 12.
Get a Grip (v12)
Timothy was called by God’s irresistible grace to eternal life AND he had confessed Jesus as Lord in front of many witnesses. He was saved . But for my money, too many people who call themselves Christians stop there as if that was the end of the journey. He had eternal life and now it was time for him to get serious about it. If you want to be passionate get a grip on eternal life.
1 Timothy 6:12 says, “…take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” This doesn’t mean that Timothy needs to reach out his hand and try to catch salvation. The verb means to “hold on tight.” It’s a demand that Timothy get a grip on eternal life – the very eternal life to which he was called. In other words it’s an outright order from a superior officer to a soldier to get his mind off of the stuff of this world and get it firmly entrenched in the next. Get a grip on eternity Timothy!
Do you want to live passionately for Jesus? You’re going to have to run away from sin as if you were scared to be caught by it. You need to set your mind and heart on pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. You need to fight the Spiritual battles that come your way. Contending for the faith not only in your own life but I think waring for the faith as one who must reach others.
And finally you’ve got to get a grip on the eternal life which God himself called you to. Most, if not all of you have made the good confession in front of witnesses. Stop letting this world entrance you and grab hold of living the eternal life that God bought for you to live with the blood of Jesus Christ.
Let’s go out this week and live a life no holds barred passionately in pursuit of Jesus Christ.