Worth reading and worth fighting for
Sometimes I have to stop and ask myself a rather embarrassing question:
‘When was the last time you actually read something?’
It’s not that I don’t read at all. Like most everyone, there are many things every day that I need to look at and read. Work policies, news stories, sports articles, emails, text messages, magazines, internet searches…we read lots of stuff, right? Well, sort of.
Truth be told, I don’t read much of what’s put in front of me. I skim. And not just a little…I skim everything.
Whether it’s the lunch menu or an official document, my tendency is to scan for key words and trust my assessment based upon what I find. With the amount of information we’re bombarded with on a daily basis, it feels like we’d never make it through a day if we stopped to really, truly read and understood everything. I’ve managed along through life alright with this method…it only occasionally causes me issues…but I find this habit creeping into my time with God, as well.
When reading the Bible, it’s very easy to fall into the habit of skimming so we can just “get it done” and move on the next task for the day. And while Jesus did promise that one of the Holy Spirit’s jobs is to remind us of everything He taught (John 15:4), it’s really tough to be reminded of something we skimmed and didn’t fully understand in the first place.
So, let’s slow down, for just a moment. Let’s read the oh-so-easy-to-skim list of characteristics Paul told Timothy to pursue. Paul said these things were worth fighting for. We’ll make sure we understand them…and then we’ll make sure we know how to pursue them ourselves. You with me?
1 Timothy 6:11-12
Now you, man of God run from these things,
but pursue righteousness, godliness, faith,
love, endurance and gentleness.
Fight the good fight for the faith;
take hold of eternal life,
to which you were called
and have made a good confession
before many witnesses.
Now, let’s look at what these terms mean.
righteousness – being in a right relationship with God; living a life according to God’s standards of integrity and purity, with correct thinking, feeling, and action
godliness – reverence and respect towards God, with the desire to imitate God’s qualities
faith – the belief that God is truthful and trustworthy
love – this is agape love, a love that is specific in affection, intention, and benevolence; it is given without condition or requirement of reciprocity
endurance – steadfastness, consistency, and patient continuance; the characteristic of a person who is not swerved from their deliberate purpose and their loyalty to God, by even the greatest trials and sufferings
gentleness – mildness, humility, meekness; strength under control when interacting with others
Now that we’ve read and understood Paul’s words, where do we go from here? Paul said they’re worth fighting for, so how do we go about doing that?
For you, maybe one characteristic stood out from the rest. Take the next week, and ask God each day to show you ways to pursue that specific trait in your life.
Alternatively, take one characteristic each day and focus in on that. Today, tell God you want to increase your righteousness with Him. Ask Him to point out the areas of your life that are rightly aligned with Him. And then ask Him to show you what parts need to be cleaned up. Tomorrow, purse godliness and pray specifically about a characteristic of His that you want to imitate – His kindness, His generosity, His strength. The next day, talk to God about faith and increasing your trust in Him. And so on, for each of the six characteristics.
Follow either plan…and in a week’s time, you’ll be amazed at what God has taught you.
Thanks for reading. Now, take hold of eternal life, to which you were called.