“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.” – 1 Timothy 6:11-12, NIV
In the last chapter of 1 Timothy, Paul begins his closing remarks by instructing Timothy to flee from sin, pursue righteousness, fight the good fight of faith and take hold of the eternal life. What can we learn from Paul’s words here?
Flee From Sin
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV
The first thing we find in 1 Timothy 6:11-12 is that Timothy is told to flee from sin. Fleeing from sin may look different from person to person, depending on what struggles and temptations a person faces.
For some people, fleeing from sin may look like being honest when lying would be easier. For others, it may be choosing to be respectful toward others in tense situations. However, no matter the sin we face, we can have hope to flee from it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says we will not be tempted beyond what we can handle. Even when we think we have no choice but to make a bad decision or fall into sin, we have the ability to do what is right.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” – Matthew 5:6, NIV
Right after Paul encourages Timothy to flee from what is evil, he encourages him to pursue righteousness. Pursuing righteousness also takes effort. In order to pursue what is righteous, we first must know what is righteous. The Bible helps us navigate what is right and gives us guidelines of what righteousness looks like, allowing us to fight the good fight of faith against sin.
In Matthew, Jesus says “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6, NIV). This promise can give hope to those striving for righteousness in knowing that those who are hungry for righteousness can be filled.
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives” – 2 Peter 3:11, NIV
Godliness is next on the list of attributes that Paul gives. Similar to righteousness, godliness requires us to get to know God and his word in order for us to lead godly lives. Living a godly life means trying to live following God’s will and framing actions in the way God would want.
In 2 Peter 3:11, we see a call to holy and godly lives. All too often it can be easy to mimic worldly actions instead of living for God. Paul writes “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2, NIV). Pursuing godliness can look like running from the things in the world that God says are not right and pursuing His holiness and righteousness.
“For we live by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7, NIV
Faith is another attribute that we can pursue. According to Hebrews 11:1, faith is “is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
2 Corinthians 5:7 says that “we live by faith, not by sight.” Faith is about having confidence in God’s promises and His word. Faith does not mean that we are to blindly put our trust into anything. Instead, we are able to use logic to put our faith in God and His word and know that even though something has not happened yet, we can still trust.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV
It probably comes as no surprise that one of the traits Paul mentions is love. Love is a common theme in many passages in the Bible. In fact, Jesus says that all the commands can be summed up into two commands both related to love: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22: 37-40, NIV).
Corinthians 13:13 says “the greatest of these is love.” Needless to say, love is extremely important to pursue. Loving God and loving others coincide. If we love God, we should also love others.
In the Bible, love is about attitudes and actions—not about feelings. For example, Matthew 5:44 says that we should love our enemies. It is highly unlikely that we will want to love our enemies, but we can be loving toward them with the help of the Holy Spirit.
“Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:11-12, NIV
Endurance is important in the Christian life. When life gets difficult, it can be hard to keep pushing forward. Having strength to continue on and give our best, even when we are struggling, is a trait worth pursuing.
We can find strength in the fact of the prize that is found at the end of the race (1 Corinthians 9:24). When we find ourselves lacking in endurance, we can use prayer to talk to God and find hope and comfort.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” – Ephesians 4:2, NIV
Gentleness is found on both the list of the fruit of the spirit and Paul’s list to Timothy. This trait entails being humble and kind. Ephesians 4:2 groups humility, gentleness, patience and bearing with one another in love.
Pursing gentleness is a choice to resist temptations to show anger towards another, and instead treat others with the same respect we’d want for ourselves.
Fight the Good Fight of Faith
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” – 2 Timothy 4:7-8, NIV
After finishing off the list of attributes to pursue, Paul writes a new instruction to Timothy: “Fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Timothy 6:12, NIV). In a way, this seems to be a combination of his previous pieces of advice. Fighting the good fight of faith involves running from sin and pursing things such as righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
Fighting the good fight of faith is about making a choice – a choice to pursue God’s will and a life of faith on a daily basis. It is about deciding to fight the temptations and factors that pull away from God and instead lean into Him.
Paul references the good fight again in 2 Timothy 4:7 where he says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Fighting the good fight of the faith is also about perseverance and continuing, even when the road is hard.
Take Hold of Eternal Life
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” – John 5:24, NIV
“Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12, NIV). In life, we take hold of a lot of things. From family to possessions to habits, everyone has something they embrace and celebrate. In Chapter 6 of 1 Timothy, Paul is saying to take hold of eternal life.
In John 5:24, Jesus says, “whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.” Through belief in Jesus and God’s plan of redemption, we are able to have eternal life. Paul encourages us to embrace and hold on to it. As in his previous analogy to fighting a good fight, here eternal life seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, a prize in the fight, an encouragement to keep the faith and not grow weary.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.