1 Timothy 6:11-12
Take Hold of Eternal Life
That’s my favorite line in this passage. It reminds me of John Bunyan’s classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress, when Christian, in desperation because of those in the City of Destruction tempting him to stay and harassing him for wanting to leave, finally puts his fingers in his ears and runs away in hopes of finding the Celestial City, screaming, “Eternal life! Eternal Life!”
So now as Paul rushes to the end of this letter to his beloved son in the faith, his greatest desire is to encourage him and urge him forward to godly living: “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things.” The things about which the Apostle just spoke consisted of the love of money and gain and the destruction to which these things lead. But we may assume that Paul is speaking of everything he has included in this letter: Endless quarrels over words, genealogies, myths, rules about diets and ascetical practices, in other words, all those things which draw one away from the substance, which is Christ (Colossians 2:17). Instead he implores young Timothy to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness”—things that matter. “Righteousness” here concerns the kind of life one expects from one made righteous by God. “Godliness” speaks to that life which is fully consecrated to God and so lived before others. “Faith” used here means trust, “love” is the outward expression of that faith towards others, “steadfastness” speaks to that quality so necessary in the life of a Christian that it becomes a character trait which is the ability to endure, and “gentleness” speaks to meekness and moderation, and lowliness of heart (WBC, 354).
Then Paul exhorts Timothy like a general to a soldier: “Fight the good fight of faith.” The Christian life is a struggle; indeed, it is a war. There are always the world, the flesh (one’s sinful nature), and the devil, and when one lightens up it is only so that the other two can step in. If your life is easy, something is wrong. This means you have become complacent and sin has settled deep within you and taken root; otherwise you have become a great saint, which you should doubt. And do you need a reason to fight? How about eternal life? You are headed towards a great and wonderful land of purity and glory. Let go of the things which hold back. Like Christian, put your fingers in your ears and scream, “Eternal life! Eternal life!” Listen to no one who would hinder you, spurn the things which tempt you, and despise that which draws you away from God. Remember the confession of faith you made before the church and pursue godliness. That’s an order.