GODLINESS AND PASTORAL CARE
Click chart to enlarge
Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
Another Overview Chart - 1 Timothy - Charles Swindoll
|THE PASTOR'S PRIMER:
PAUL'S PRACTICAL PASTORAL
INSTRUCTIONS REGARDING THE LOCAL CHURCH
|1 Timothy 1||1 Timothy 2-3||1 Timothy 4||1 Timothy 5||1 Timothy 6|
the Man of God
|Written in Macedonia
1Timothy 6:11: But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. (NASB: Lockman)
Amplified: But as for you, O man of God, flee from all these things; aim at and pursue righteousness (right standing with God and true goodness), godliness (which is the loving fear of God and being Christlike), faith, love, steadfastness (patience), and gentleness of heart. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
ESV: But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
KJV: But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
Moffatt: Shun that, O man of God, aim at integrity, piety, faith, love, stedfastness, and suavity;
NET: But you, as a person dedicated to God, keep away from all that. Instead pursue righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, endurance, and gentleness.
NLT: But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: But you, the man of God, keep clear of such things. Set your heart not on riches, but on goodness, Christ-likeness, faith, love, patience and humility. (Phillips: Touchstone)
TLB: O Timothy, you are God’s man. Run from all these evil things, and work instead at what is right and good, learning to trust him and love others and to be patient and gentle.
Weymouth: But you, O man of God, must flee from these things; and strive for uprightness, godliness, good faith, love, fortitude, and a forgiving temper.
Wuest: But, as for you, O man of God, these things be constantly fleeing. But be as constantly eagerly seeking to acquire righteousness, godly piety, faith, divine and self-sacrificial love, steadfastness, gentleness.
Young's Literal: and thou, O man of God, these things flee, and pursue righteousness, piety, faith, love, endurance, meekness
Personal Paraphrase: But in contrast to the man who loves money, you O man of God continually make choices (enabled by the Spirit) to run and flee things mentioned (especially the love of money), continually pursuing hard (enabled by the Spirit of Grace), after right (righteous first before God and then before men) thoughts, words and deeds, the things that God loves and that please Him, genuine faith that readily obeys, sacrificial love that dies daily to self and a meek spirit like a gentle but powerful horse.
BUT FLEE FROM THESE THINGS, YOU MAN OF GOD: Su de, o anthrope theou, tauta pheuge; (2SPAM):
- Flee: 1Co 6:18 10:14 2Ti 2:22
- Man of God: 1Ti 6:20 Dt 33:1 1Sa 2:27 9:6 1Ki 13:1,26 17:18,24 20:28 2Ki 1:9,13 2Ki 5:20 23:17 1Ch 23:14 2Ch 8:14 Ne 12:24,36 Jer 35:4 2Ti 3:17
A COMMAND CALLING FOR
A DRAMATIC CHANGE OF DIRECTION!
But (de) - Whenever you see this conjunction of contrast (see discussion), stop and ask what is being contrasted (See inductive Bible study)? How is the author "changing direction" and why? In this case we need to look at the previous two passages to answer…
But (This should force us to read the prior passages!) those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang. (1Ti 6:9, 10)
Comment: What is the main subject in these passages? Clearly the trap Paul wants Timothy to avoid is the desire to get rich and the love of money. Who are those who want to get rich in 1Ti 6:9? In the context of this letter, this is a description of the false teachers, those who are "money's men" (MacArthur). As noted above "but" (and other contrast words) mark a change of direction and that is literally true in this passage! These false teachers were running toward Gold, BUT Timothy is charged to continually run toward God! How the televangelists of our day need to read and heed Paul's warning! How often do we attempt to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone and they raise the argument "What about those guys on TV? They're a bunch of fakes!" It's difficult to refute this argument. As Expositor's Greek Testament says "love of money in ministers of religion does more to discredit religion in the eyes of ordinary people than would indulgence in many grosser vices." Sad but too true!
A BEAUTIFUL EPITHET:
MAN OF GOD
O man of God - This is a beautiful "epithet", which is defined as a phrase that is used in place of the name of the person. The first use of man of God in Scripture is in a description of Moses as "the man of God" (Dt 33:1, cp Josh 14:6, Ps 90:1). "Man of God" is used over 70 times in the Old Testament (eg, 1Sa 9:6, 1Ki 13:1, 2, etc) to describe a number of different prophets (some named and some not named). Nehemiah describes David as "the man of God." (Neh 12:24) Bengel writes that in the Hebrew sense, the man of God is "a prophet, a mediating messenger of God to men, one removed from earthly things." Indeed, designating Timothy as man of God draws a dramatic contrast to the false teachers who clearly are not men of God and not removed from earthly things! The NET Bible translation picks up on this sense rendering it "a person dedicated to God." This begs the question "How would Paul describe me -- as a man (woman) of God or a man (woman) of mammon?"
Steven Cole adds that
The title, “man of God” is used in the Old Testament of men like Moses, Samuel, Elijah, David, and a few prophets. It means a man who belongs wholly to God, who follows God’s Word in every aspect of life. A man of God has a certain dignity and aura about him so that when you’re with him, you sense the presence of God, because his life is so entwined with God. There’s no greater title that any Christian can covet for himself or herself than to be called a man or woman of God. But it doesn’t happen automatically! “Some (1Ti 6:10)… but you (1Ti 6:11)”! To be a man or woman of God, you must resolve to stand against the tide. You must flee worldliness, pursue godliness, fight for the faith, and take hold of eternal life. (1 Timothy 6:11-12 Going the Distance)
Newport J D White writes that…
He was a man of God, i.e., a man belonging to the spiritual order of things with which that which is merely temporal, transitory and perishing can have no permanent relationship. (1 Timothy 6 Commentary)
As used by Paul, the phrase man of God is not an official title, but most likely reflects the fact that Timothy was a godly man. Or one might say he was "God's man" in Ephesus, just as you beloved are God's man or God's woman at your workplace, your school, your athletic team, etc, etc. God has you there as His man or His woman. This unique phrase man of God is found only here and in Second Timothy where Paul states that the inspired Word of God is that by which the "man of God" is made "adequate, equipped for every good work." (2Ti 3:17) It follows that the man of God is a man of the "Book", a man of the Word of God. Some scholars feel that the word "man" (anthropos) is used in a Semitic fashion with a genitive (possessive case - God is the owner of this man so to speak!) to suggest relationship. For example compare 2Th. 2:3 where we see a description of the Antichrist, the "man of sin", which is the stark contrast with Timothy, "the man of God"! The idea is that the Antichrist is "possessed by sin" and thus has a strong relationship with sin, whereas Timothy is possessed by God and has a strong relationship with Him. In the context, Timothy is not a man possessed by riches or love of money, but is a man who is possessed by God! What a beautiful description and one we should all seek to emulate! There is no greater epitaph (memorial inscription on one's grave) that can be written on one's tombstone then that "John (Sarah) Doe was a man (or woman) of God!" May their tribe increase! Amen.
Matthew Henry comments that Paul now seeks to caution Timothy…
and to counsel him to keep in the way of God and his duty, and particularly to fulfill the trust reposed (deposited, placed in confidence) in him as a minister. He addresses himself to him as a man of God. Ministers are men of God, and ought to conduct themselves accordingly in every thing; they are men employed for God, devoted to His honor more immediately. The prophets under the Old Testament were called men of God. He charges Timothy to take heed of the love of money, which had been so pernicious to many: Flee these things.
HOW TO FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT:
FLEE SIN & PURSUE VIRTUE
Flee these things - Whenever you observe a phrase like "these things", pause and interrogate the text (See hints on how to interrogate with the 5W/H'S), asking at the very least the simple question "What things?" Sometimes the answer is easy to observe from the context, while at other times it may be more problematic. In the present context, "these things" could be summarized as "love of money" (and riches) or one could extrapolate and say "worldliness in general." Recall that the Christian soldier has three mortal enemies, the world, the flesh and the devil. Most of us think of the devil as our most formidable foe, but how does James say to wage war with him?
Submit (aorist imperative) therefore to God (Indeed this "imperative" is "imperative" before we can "resist"! I.e., we need to bow before we can stand and resist!). Resist (aorist imperative) the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7-note)
But here when Timothy is faced with the "foe" of worldly riches, what does Paul command? Flee. Run. Don't debate. Don't rationalize. Certainly don't partake. Just part ways with the love of money! In God's wisdom in the Bible there is a time to stand firm and a time to run fast. In several other scenarios Paul issued a similar command to FLEE! -
(3) Idolatry (anything that you are more devoted to than God has the potential to be an idol!) (1Cor 10:14, note that Scripture repeatedly "defines" one aspect of idolatry as greed or covetousness! = Col 3:5-note, The covetous man = an idolater in Eph 5:5-note). (Compare flee from the wrath to come - Mt 3:7, flee from strangers [strange shepherds] - Jn 10:5)
Flee (5343)(pheugo) means to take flight in order to seek safety or to escape something so that one is safe from danger. In the present passage the idea is to keep from doing something (in this case flee from the desire for riches) by avoiding it in view of its potential danger to tempt and ensnare the unwary Christian worker! These truths make me think of some wonderful, godly Christian vocalists (I will mention no names) who became very popular (and rich) and who were ensnared by their own fame and success. If we are all honest, money is one of those otherwise necessary and neutral things in life which can really test our integrity and our heart's devotion to God.
Webster has an interesting and relevant definition for "flee", stating that it means to avoid deliberately and especially habitually; to run away from danger or evil or to hurry toward a place of security.
Flee is in the present imperative, which pictures Paul like a General taking his commands from the Captain of our salvation, Christ Jesus, and passing those commands on to his young soldier in the field to make it his habitual practice to flee from worldly riches and love of money! To flee is mandatory, not optional. It is not a suggestion!
Paul repeats the flee/pursue commands in his second letter (Do you think Paul feels this is important? Remember 2Timothy is Paul's last written communication.)
Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2Ti 2:22)
Pheugo is the root of our English word "fugitive" defined as one who escapes from something or someone. Before we were saved, we chased after sin. Now sin chases after us! [Lat., fugia= flight.; Eng= fugitive ~ be a "fugitive" on this world -- it's not our home]
Why does Paul use the present tense signifying habitual, continuous effort? The simple answer is these temptations continually purse us and seek to ensnare us. We must make a conscious decision (flee is in the active voice = calling for a choice of my will) to flee so that fleeing becomes our default reaction, our heart motivated and Spirit energized habit. When we recognize the temptation, Paul commands us to run away, to continually shun these ungodly enticements, those "little idols" which seek to tear us down rather than build us up. (cf 1Th 4:3-note 1Th 5:22-note 1Pe 2:11-note)
Saints, ''set apart ones'' (''set apart to One'') are to daily conduct their lives as if they were fugitives on this alien godless planet, daily fleeing from the onslaught of overt and subtle dangers that might inoculate us, that might contaminate our spiritual lifeblood. But we don't flee into a spiritual vacuum but into the arms of our Master, the Lover of our soul for He alone is our quiet refuge from the storms that rage, He alone has the strength to shield us from the forces that would so quickly undo us. Hallelujah. Amen. WHAT ELSE DOES THE WORD SAY TO FLEE? IMMORALITY: 1Co 6:18 IDOLATRY: 1Co 10:14 evil doctrine, questionings, disputes of words, envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, wranglings, and the love of money, 1Ti 6:11 youthful lusts, 2Ti 2:22
TO WHOM IS PAUL ADDRESSING THESE ADMONITIONS AND COMMANDS? ''You MAN OF GOD'' So this must be bedrock truth for in fact being GOD'S MAN in this foreign land. TAKE HEED TO GOD'S WISDOM, & live wisely (wisdom practiced).
I love Pastor Steven Cole's introductory remarks in his sermon on Going the Distance (1Timothy 6:11-12 - As an aside, I strongly encourage you to become familiar with Steven Cole's material which almost reads like a verse by verse commentary! see Sermons by Book)…
Question: What do diets, exercise programs, marriage, and the Christian life have in common? Answer: It’s fairly easy and even fun to begin, but it’s not so easy to hang in over the long haul.
Eugene Peterson, in his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction Discipleship in an Instant Society, writes,
One aspect of world that I have been able to identify as harmful to Christians is the assumption that anything worthwhile can be acquired at once. We assume that if something can be done at all, it can be done quickly and efficiently. Our attention spans have been conditioned by thirty-second commercials. Our sense of reality has been flattened by thirty-page abridgments.
It is not difficult in such a world to get a person interested in the message of the Gospel; it is terrifically difficult to sustain the interest. Millions of people in our culture make decisions for Christ, but there is a dreadful attrition rate. Many claim to be born again, but the evidence for mature Christian disciple-ship is slim. In our kind of culture anything, even news about God, can be sold if it is packaged freshly; but when it loses its novelty, it goes on the garbage heap. There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.
(Peterson adds [not quoted by Cole] "Religion in our time has been captured by the tourist mindset. Religion is understood as a visit to an attractive site to be made when we have adequate leisure. For some it is a weekly jaunt to church; for others, occasional visits to special services. Some, with a bent for religious entertainment and sacred diversion, plan their lives around special events like retreats, rallies and conferences. We go to see a new personality, to hear a new truth, to get a new experience and so somehow expand our otherwise humdrum lives. The religious life is defined as the latest and the newest: Zen, faith healing, human potential, parapsychology, successful living, choreography in the chancel, Armageddon. We'll try anything—until something else comes along.")
The Christian life is not a hundred-yard dash; it’s a marathon, a “long obedience in the same direction.”
Starting well is easy;
finishing well is another matter.
We all will encounter numerous hindrances. But, like Bunyan’s Christian, those whose burden has been lifted at Calvary will persevere.
In the final section of this letter, Paul tells Timothy and us how to go the distance. Timothy found himself in a difficult situation that was seemingly not suited for his timid personality. He had to confront the false teachers who had arisen among the Ephesian leaders by refuting their errors and by teaching the truth. No doubt he was catching flak from many in the church who had been led astray by these men and their errors. So Paul, like a coach at half time in a rough game, reminds Timothy of the game plan and challenges him to hang in there, even though it’s not easy. He gives four commands in 1Timothy 6:11-12 that are pillars for perseverance: Flee; pursue; fight; and, take hold (Ed: And these are all imperatives or commands, not suggestions!):
To persevere, a man of God will flee worldliness, pursue godliness, fight for the faith, and take hold of eternal life. (1 Timothy 6:11-12 Going the Distance)
FLEE - I didn't see the movie The Exorcist, but I do recall its impact on my community. It left a lasting impression on many people about Satan's power. Even many Christians began to live in fear, swayed by the vivid images of evil. It seemed as if the devil was almost as powerful as God.
Is this perspective biblically sound? Of course not. God is the Creator, and all others, including demons, are just created beings. Only God is almighty.
It's easy to blame the devil when things go wrong. Although he does propagate wickedness and sin, we must be careful not to conclude that we are powerless against him. We are told in the Bible that the Holy Spirit within us "is greater than he who is in the world" (1Jn 4:4).
The Bible also says we have a role to play in overcoming evil and doing what is good. We are to "flee sexual immorality" (1Co 6:18, 19, 20), "flee from idolatry" (1Co 10:14), "flee" from the love of money (1Ti 6:10, 11), and "flee also youthful lusts" (2Ti 2:22).
James said that our attitude toward the devil should be to "resist" him (James 4:7). How do we do this? By submitting ourselves to God, allowing Him to direct our lives. Then it will be the devil who will flee from us.—Albert Lee (Copyright. Used by permission of Our Daily Bread)
When Satan launches his attack,
We must take heart and pray;
If we submit ourselves to God,
He'll be our strength each day.
To defeat Satan, surrender to Christ.
Disappearing Act - What if suddenly one day all followers of Christ disappeared? What if we all just vanished?
I’m not talking about Christians being removed from planet Earth. I’m talking about something that we can control.
What if suddenly all the Christians vanished from places of entertainment where we, as children of the heavenly Father, didn’t belong?
For instance, what if Christians refused to watch TV programs in which immorality masquerades as entertainment? What if we all vanished from the Nielsen ratings? And what if we no longer watched movies that are ungodly or whose characters use God’s name in vain and take God’s standards so lightly?
Would our absence make a difference? Would the people in Hollywood notice that we were gone?
I think so, but that’s not really the point. Our duty in life is to live each moment in fellowship with God. That means we don’t let anything in our lives interrupt that fellowship. Our close relationship with God is at stake.
Let’s vanish from the hordes who are being influenced by ungodly entertainment. And even if nobody notices but God, that’s really all that matters.
More purity give me, more strength to o'ercome,
More freedom from earth-stains, more longings for home;
More fit for the kingdom, more used would I be,
More blessed and holy, more, Savior, like Thee.
If you walk with God,
Ayou won't run with the world.
PURSUE RIGHTEOUSNESS, GODLINESS, FAITH, LOVE, PERSEVERANCE AND GENTLENESS: dioke (2SPAM) de dikaiosunen, eusebeian, pistin, agapen, hupomonen, praupathian: (Pursue: 1Ti 5:10 Dt 16:20 Ps 34:14 38:20 Isa 51:1 Ro 14:19 1Co 14:1 2Ti 2:22 Heb 12:14 1Pe 3:11) (Righteousness: 1Ti 4:12 Gal 5:22,23 Php 4:8,9 Titus 2:11,12 2Pe 1:5-7)
The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but He loves one who pursues righteousness. (Pr 15:9)
Why does Paul use a verb like "pursue"? That makes it sound a little like works righteousness doesn't it? The point is that these Christian virtues will not bloom forth to fruition "automatically" just because we are children of the King. To say it another way, these virtues are not "easily caught" which is why they need to be actively pursued! As alluded to earlier Paul explained to the saints at Philippi, that the development of our Christian character (righteousness, godliness, etc) requires a daily choice to work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Php 2:12).
In light of the truth that saints have everything necessary for life and godliness and all of God's precious and magnificent promises at their disposal, Peter encourages them to apply all diligence and to make every effort (yes, growth in Christ likeness requires effort)…
in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. (Ed: Notice the overlap with Paul's list of "virtues") 8 For (See discussion of terms of explanation - What is Peter explaining? Why is pursuit of these virtues so vital?) if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For (term of explanation) he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore (term of conclusion - Always ask "What's it there for - and be sure to pause and ponder your answer - you are learning to meditate!), brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things (What things? Always seek to interrogate the test with the 5W/H'S), you will never stumble; 11 for (term of explanation) in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. (2Pe1:5-11)
Pursue (1377)(dioko from dío = pursue, prosecute, persecute) means to follow zealously after or press hard after something (in context the virtues listed). Run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing. This verb conveys a picture of an intense, diligent, determined, earnest, eager effort in pursuit of something in order to obtain or acquire it, in the present case godly virtues. Dioko paints the picture of going on the track of something even as the hunting hounds would tirelessly pursue after the fleeing fox.
Dioko was one of Paul's favorite verbs to denote the pursuit of moral or spiritual ends. (Romans 14:19; 1 Peter 3:11. The verb is used of the pursuit of moral and spiritual ends, Romans 9:30, 31; 12:13; 1 Corinthians 14:1 (pursue love); Philippians 3:12, 14; 1 Thessalonians 5:15 (pursue good for other); 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22, cp Heb 12:14, 1Peter 3:11 (pursue peace)
As noted above, pursue is in the present imperative, which calls for this to be Timothy's (and our) habitual practice, our lifestyle. We must continually make the choice to vigorously, earnestly, zealously pursue the Christian virtues listed by Paul. As Steven Cole quipped "you won’t accidentally attain these qualities by hanging around church buildings long enough. You’ve got to go after them deliberately over the long haul." These virtues will elude us if we do not make the necessary (Spirit and grace enabled) effort to chase after them! How would you describe this past year of your Christian life -- a life of vigorous pursuit of God's best or a year of pursuing passing pleasures or just a year of spiritual indifference?
How can believers heed the charge to continually flee and pursue? While I am not an advocate of the saying "let go and let God," the latter phrase is vital to comprehend because if believers had to rely on their natural strength, they could never fulfill the divine commands . Every believer retains an indwelling anti-God tendency known as the flesh. The Spirit of God Who indwells the believer is the only power Who can overcome the ungodly or anti-God inertia of the flesh (see notes on Galatians 5:16). As we learn to surrender and yield and be filled and be controlled by the Holy Spirit (cp Eph 5:18-note), He gives us not only the desire to obey the commands, but also the power to obey that we might be pleasing to God (Study Php 2:13-note). And yet it is not all "let go and let God", for we have a responsibility to work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Study Php 2:12-note). Is this a bit mysterious? Does it sound like "spiritual double-talk?" As believers we are to work out our salvation and that is 100% our responsibility and yet it is 100% God's enabling ability! This is a picture of "synergism" which is defined as the interaction of discrete agents (in this case believers indwelt by the Holy Spirit) such that the total effect is greater than the sum of the individual effects.
Jerry Bridges terms this mysterious partnership the Holy Spirit's "synergistic work"…
which refers to occasions that combine our effort with His enabling power. But this isn’t a pure synergism, as if we and the Spirit each contributed equal power to the task. Rather, we work as He enables us to work, so we use the expression qualified synergism. We’re 100 percent dependent on His power in order to participate in the work, as the psalmist illustrated: Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain (Psalm 127:1-Spurgeon's note). Two activities are mentioned: building a house and watching over a city. The Lord’s involvement isn’t one of helping but of building the house and watching over the city. At the same time, the builder builds and the watchman watches. The verse’s message is that the Lord doesn’t merely help the builder and the watchman; He’s totally involved with them in this qualified synergism. He supplies all the enabling power, and they do all the tangible work. There are many such examples in the New Testament. We’re to “put to death the deeds of the body” (Ed: Our part) —the sin that remains in us—yet we do so “by the Spirit” (Ed: His power) (Romans 8:13-note). We’re to use the spiritual gifts we’ve received to serve God and other people, yet we do so “by the strength that God supplies” (1Peter 4:10,11-note). (Bolding and italics added for emphasis). (The Bookends of the Christian Life - Jerry Bridges, Bob Bevington - I highly recommend this book - it will give you some wonderful insights into pursuing righteousness, etc! If you don't believe me, read some of the Customer Reviews).
Newport J D White observes that…
The six virtues fall perhaps into three pairs, as Ell. suggests: “righteousness and godliness have the widest relations, pointing to general conformity to God’s law and practical piety… ; faith and love are the fundamental principles of Christianity; patience and gentleness, the principles on which a Christian ought to act towards his gainsayers (those who contradict or oppose in words) and opponents”. As a group, they are contrasted with the group of vices in 1Ti 6:4, 5 but we cannot arrange them in pairs of opposites. We may add that faith (pistis) results in patience (hupomone) (James 1:3; Ro 5:3; 2Th. 1:4; 2Ti 3:10; Titus 2:2; Heb. 12:1), as love (agape) does in gentleness. (1 Timothy 6 Commentary)
Righteousness (1343)(dikaiosune from dikaios [word study] = being proper or right in the sense of being fully justified being or in accordance with what God requires) in simple terms is the quality of being upright. Dikaiosune conveys the idea of conformity to a standard which for Timothy and all believers is the Word of God. In this sense righteousness is the opposite of hamartia (sin), which is defined as missing of the mark set by the Word of God.
Vincent says that righteousness in this passage is "Not in the Pauline dogmatic sense, but as Ephesians 5:9, moral rectitude according to God's law."
Paul's "dogmatic sense" relates to the righteousness associated with initial salvation, for when one is justified by faith (not works) they are declared righteous. Justification is a judicial action in which God puts our sin on Christ and He credits Christ’s righteousness to our account it is by faith, not by works. Having been justified (declared righteous) by faith, the Christian is commanded to then pursue a life of righteousness. In other words, when Timothy was first saved, he was made positionally righteous in Christ. Then as a new creation in Christ, Timothy was to pursue practical or experiential righteousness (right behavior before God and before men) in his daily life, a process which theologians term progressive sanctification.
John describes the practice of righteousness in his first epistle writing…
Little children, let no one deceive you (Ed: Implying some were trying to deceive them into believing you can say "I believe in Jesus" and then go on your merry way and live the rest of your life for self -- this teaching is in the modern evangelical church, and it is deceiving those who believe it!) ; the one who practices (present tense = speaks not of perfection but of the general "direction" of one's life) righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices (present tense = habitually, endlessly practices) sin is of the devil (Ed: How much clear could John have been?)… By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice (present tense = direction not perfection) righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:7-8a, 10).
In Romans 9 Paul describes a pursuit for righteousness, but in that context it refers to the righteousness which one obtains when they are justified by faith. It is not the righteousness or right behavior that is associated with daily sanctification or growth in Christ likeness.
What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness (Ed: Which in essence was self-righteousness, not supernatural righteousness found only in Christ), did not arrive at that law. (Ro 9:30, 31)
Godliness (2150)(eusebeia from eu = well + sebomai = reverence. Sebomai is in turn derived from "seb" which refers to sacred awe or reverence exhibited especially in actions) most literally means "well worship". It describes reverence or awe that is well directed. Eusebeia is characterized by a Godward attitude, does that which is well-pleasing to Him
In the pastoral epistles eusebeia denotes a manner of life. In other words it is a Godward life which is in stark contrast to those just described who set their desire on earthly riches and money! It is interesting that here in the first epistle Timothy is charged to pursue godliness whereas in 2Ti 2:22 this virtue is not listed as one he is to pursue. Some surmise that this indicates godliness is not indispensable as are faith and love, but I am not sure that is a fair conclusion.
Steven Cole explains that…
A godly person lives with an awareness of God’s holy presence, and so he fears God and flees from sin. As we saw in 4:7-8, we must discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness. You won’t roll out of bed some morning and find out that you magically attained it overnight. You won’t get it by going to a spiritual conference or having some emotional experience. You have to diligently discipline yourself to pursue godliness. (Going the Distance)
TDNT -- (might review the uses)…
Over against the way of life associated with false teaching, eusébeia is the godliness that accords with sound teaching (1 Tim. 6:3; Tit. 1:1). False teachers have a form of it but it does not shape their lives, and they use it for gain (2 Tim. 3:5; 1 Tim. 6:5-6), thus missing the gain of true godliness. Christian eusébeia is not moralistic, for if is rooted in the Christ event (1 Tim. 3:16). It is not just outward worship, nor a mere concept of God, nor a virtue, nor an ideal. Over against a Gnosticizing asceticism that regards creation as bad and dissolves its orders, true eusébeia, born of faith, covers everyday conduct in honoring God as Creator and Redeemer, even though it may expect persecution from the very orders of God which it respects. The term eusébeia plays a role here probably because the author hopes that a manner of life that exhibits eusébeia will elicit a favorable verdict from non-Christians who set store by it. In this sense it is profitable for this world as well as the next (1 Tim. 4:8). Respect for the orders, however, is now grounded in the will of the Creator who is also Savior (4:10).
Related Resource: Click for more discussion of godliness
2 Timothy 2:24 And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
Eusebeia is true religion that displays itself in reverence before what is majestic and divine in worship and in a life of active obedience which befits that reverence.
Eusebeia is a term used, not of God, but of men.
Marvin Vincent says that eusebeia
is from eu, well, and sebomai, to worship, so that the radical idea is worship rightly directed. Worship, however, is to be understood in its etymological sense, worth-ship, or reverence paid to worth, whether in God or man… In classical Greek the word is not confined to religion, but means also piety in the fulfilment of human relations… Even in classical Greek, however, it is a standing word for piety in the religious sense, showing itself in right reverence; and is opposed to ungodliness, and profaneness." Vincent goes on to quote a secular definition of eusébeia which is defined as “The recognition of dependence upon the gods, the confession of human dependence, the tribute of homage which man renders in the certainty that he needs their favor — all this is eusébeia, manifest in conduct and conversation, in sacrifice and prayer." Vincent adds that this secular "definition may be almost literally transferred to the Christian word. It embraces the confession of the one living and true God, and life corresponding to this knowledge." (Bolding added. Vincent, M. R. Word Studies in the New Testament. Vol. 1, Page 3-677)
C H Spurgeon in his sermon on a "form of godliness" (Read this pithy sermon "The Form of Godliness without the Power) offers several descriptions of true godliness, first asking…
What is that power? God Himself is the power of godliness, The Holy Spirit is the life and force of it (cp Jn 6:63).
Godliness is the power which brings a man to God, and binds him to Him.
Godliness is that which creates repentance towards God, and faith in Him.
Godliness is the result of a great change of heart in reference to God and his character.
Godliness looks towards God, and mourns its distance from Him; godliness hastens to draw nigh, and rests not till it is at home with God.
Godliness makes a man like God. Godliness leads a man to love God, and to serve God; it brings the fear of God before his eyes, and the love of God into his heart.
Godliness leads to consecration, to sanctification, to concentration.
The godly man seeks first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mt 6:33-note), and expects other things to be added to him.
Godliness makes a man commune with God, and gives him a partnership with God in his glorious designs; and so it prepares him to dwell with God for ever.
Many who have the form of godliness are strangers to this power, and so are in religion worldly, in prayer mechanical, in public one thing, and in private another. True godliness lies in spiritual power, and as they are without this, they are dead while they live. (Excerpt from The Form of Godliness without the Power)
Godliness is a right attitude and response toward the true Creator God; a preoccupation from the heart with holy and sacred realities. It is respect for what is due to God, and is thus the highest of all virtues. (MacArthur, John: 1Timothy Moody Press or Logos or Wordsearch)
Dr. Wayne Barber's thoughts on godliness
"Remember though that Worship is NOT an feeling! As we act upon the Truth we have learned in the Word, the Spirit begins to develop His character within us (sanctifies us) and the spiritual knowledge (gnosis) becomes so practical that God begins to meet every need of your life. Paul had to learn this truth too (Php 4:11, 12, 13-see notes Php 4:11-12,13). You begin to find yourself experiencing self-control in areas you never thought possible and you can bear up under things that before were seeming impossible circumstances. Godliness comes out of this quality of obedient faith and one result is the ability to worship well. Jesus "worshiped" His Father… not My will, but Thine be done. The essence of real worship is when we say ''No'' to our flesh (Ro 6:12-note) and ''Yes'' to God (Ro 6:13-note). Paul explains well worship in Ro 12:1 (note)
I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, [which is] your spiritual (= reasonable, Greek word ''logikos'' for ''logical'') service of worship.
Worship is not a feeling you get when someone sings a wonderful song at church. Worship is a verb, a response to what God has done in my life. Not my will but thine be done is the essence of genuine worship.
There is a pseudo-godliness Paul warns Peter to avoid describing those in the last days who are…
holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power (2Ti 3:5-note)
What is the power of real godliness? It's the power to lay my life down in order for Christ to be glorified in me. As Paul warns, many ostensibly very "religious" people have a form of godliness, going through the motions of religion, but they don't have the power to truly lay down their lives. Out of this process and grounded in faith, comes a god-likeness. We begin to become like Jesus, conformed to His image, enabled by His Spirit to manifest His character summed up in John's gospel…
Greater love hath no man but to lay down his life for his brother. (Jn 15:13)
This is essence of a benevolent good -- when a person is willing to lay down his own life for the benefit of another. How can you be like this? If Christ is in you, Peter says you can do it as you apply all diligence.
(1). Necessitates effort on our part (1Ti 4:7, 8-note)
(2). Must be pursued: (1Ti 6:11) Flee (present imperative) from these things, you man of God; and Pursue (present imperative = command to continuously make the volitional choice to press hard after, as the habit of your life) righteousness, godliness… " where "pursue" means to follow or press hard after with earnestness and diligence in order to obtain
(3) Can be faked: (2Ti 3:5- note) "holding to a form (morphosis - outward form) of godliness, although they have denied its power" (where "denied" is perfect tense = denied at some point in time in past with that denial & the results/effects of that denial persisting) How do you know? Watch their life. They have denied the transforming power of grace manifest by the true gospel What makes false teachers so dangerous? They may manifest a form of godliness and so appear to be Christians (Mt 7:15, 21, 22, 23-see notes Mt 7:15, 21, 22-23). Mark it down a profession of truth which is associated with an individual living in ungodliness is a spurious profession & that person is woefully deceived. Godly belief always produces a godly life. (Titus 1:1-noteand compare Titus 1:16-note)
Faith (4102)(pistis) describes a firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth, veracity, reality or faithfulness. Faith is not just a mental assent but a firm conviction, a surrender to that truth and a conduct emanating from or in accord with one's surrender. In sum, faith shows itself genuine by a changed life. As a working principle in life, the uses of faith are well illustrated in Hebrews 11.
Faith is placed in a series of practical duties (see 1 Timothy 1:5, 14; 2:15; 4:12; 2 Timothy 1:13; 1 Timothy 1:19; 2:7; 3:9; 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22; 3:10). Word Studies in the New Testament.
Maclaren writes that "Faith is the hand that grasps."
Cole explains that…
Some commentators understand "faith" to mean “faithfulness,” that dependability which is a fruit of the Spirit and should be present in every believer (Gal. 5:22). But it also can refer to the trust in God that consciously relies on Him in every situation of life. As Hebrews 11, the great chapter on faith, shows, men and women of faith believe the promises of God and live in light of them, even in the face of not receiving what is promised, because they trust that God will fulfill His sure word in heaven if not in this life (Heb. 11:13-16). Again, you need to pursue faith. You don’t wake up some morning with vigorous faith any more than a guy with bulging muscles went to bed one night as a 98-pound weakling and woke up looking like Mr. America! How do you pursue faith? By trusting God in the frustrations, irritations, and trials that He sends your way. You deliberately humble yourself under God’s sovereign hand and cast all your anxieties on Him through prayer, knowing that in spite of how it may seem, He does care for you (1Pe 5:6-7). Instead of learning to trust God with the little trials, many Christians grumble and chafe under them. They flatter themselves into thinking that if a major trial ever hits, they’ll trust God then. But it’s the small irritations that God uses to build our faith as we submit to Him and seek Him each day. We need to pursue faith in our daily circumstances. (Going the Distance)
A LIFELONG PURSUIT
NOT AN ARRIVAL!
Love (26)(agape) describes unconditional, sacrificial love and Biblically refers to a love that God is (1Jn 4:8,16), that God shows (Jn 3:16, 1Jn 4:9) and that God enables in His children (see note on fruit of the Spirit - Gal 5:22 Agape is not based on pleasant emotions or good feelings that might result from a physical attraction or a familial bond. Agape chooses as an act of self-sacrifice to serve the recipient. From all of the descriptions of agape love, it is clear that true agape love is a sure mark of salvation.
The fact that Paul charges Timothy to pursue love should be encouraging to all believers. Why do I say that? Well, we all know that love is the "badge" of our faith, the supreme fruit of the Gospel growing in our lives and yet we all know how difficult it is to love at times when we don't even like the definition of love in 1Corinthians 13:1-7, much less fell like practicing it! The point is that God-like love does not come naturally. It does not just effortlessly. Beloved, don't let anyone play the shame game or put you on a guilt trip that you are loving like Christ. Paul plainly says this love is a lifelong pursuit, and the implication is that in this short life, we will never attain love as perfectly or as much as we should. So keep on pursuing it and practicing it, relying not on self energy but Spirit enabling power to produce this beautiful supernatural fruit. Christ-like love is to be our lifelong a pursuit, not our "arrival" until we reach glory!
"R & R"
Just as we are called to walk by faith, and not by sight, by extension we must practice the pursuit of love by faith, which includes a renunciation ("R") of our own resources and a reliance ("R"), or dependence, on God’s infinite resources.
Agape love does not depend on the world’s criteria for love, such as attractiveness, emotions, or sentimentality. Believers can easily fall into the trap of blindly following the world’s demand that a lover feel positive toward the beloved. This is not agape love, but is a love based on impulse. Impulsive love characterizes the spouse who announces to the other spouse that they are planning to divorce their mate. Why? They reason “I can’t help it. I fell in love with another person!” Christians must understand that this type of impulsive love is completely contrary to God’s decisive love, which is decisive because He is in control and has a purpose in mind. There are many reasons a proper understanding of the truth of God's word (and of the world's lie) is critical and one of the foremost is Jesus' declaration that
"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love (agape) for one another." (John 13:35).
PURSUE BEARING UP
UNDER DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES
Patience (5281) (hupomone from hupo = under + meno = stay, remain, abide) literally means abiding under. The root idea of hupomone is to remain under some discipline, subjecting one’s self to something which demands the submission of one's will to something against which one naturally would rebel. It portrays a picture of steadfastly and unflinchingly bearing up under a heavy load and describes that quality of character which does not allow one to surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial. The picture is that of steadfastness, constancy and endurance. It has in it a forward look, the ability to focus on what is beyond the current pressures (eg Jesus
And so hupomone does not describe a grim resignation or a passive "grin and bear" attitude but a triumphant facing of difficult circumstances knowing that even out of evil God guarantees good. It is courageous gallantry which accepts suffering and hardship and turns them into grace and glory.
In short, hupomone is steadfastness in the face of difficult circumstances or afflictions. Preaching the Gospel would bring opposition to Timothy and he would need both patience and gentleness in his behavior toward his opponents.
In Luke 8:15 hupomone characterizes true believers, being pictured as an active force that bears spiritual fruit. Over and over in the NT, we see that salvation is by faith alone, but that faith which is true, saving faith, is faith that is associated with good works (fruit). Why is there such a repeated emphasis in the NT? Clearly God desires that all men be saved. He does not want them to think they are saved when they are not. Thus He repeatedly associates an observable "commodity" as a product of their faith, so that they can see and have assurance that their faith is real. Sadly, a number of commentators with evangelical leanings disparage any attempt to link faith with works, accusing such attempts as perversions of salvation by faith alone. Nothing could be further from the truth. And nothing has a greater potential to deceive a soul into thinking they are saved when they are not. This is an eternal life or death issue and both parties cannot be correct.
In Mark 13:13 (Mt 24:13) Jesus Himself associates perseverance with salvation. He is not saying that one's perseveration in any way gains or merits salvation. Quite to the contrary, He is saying that the one who perseveres to the end does so precisely because he is truly saved. The fact that he was enabled (supernaturally) to endure to the end is clear evidence of genuine salvation (cp Acts 14:22).
It is given by God (Rom. 15:5) and is closely related to faith and love (1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 3:10). Tit. 2:2 has the triad faith, love, and (hoping) steadfastness. If hope focuses on the future, the steadfastness of hope is its expression in the present time of affliction. It has the promise that those who die with Christ, if they endure, shall also reign with him (2 Tim. 2:11..12).Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: Abridged in One Volume.
TDNT has a helpful note on hupomone…
Paul sketches the main features of hypomonḗ as a Christian attitude. It does not derive from bravery or insensitivity but from faith and hope (Rom. 8:25). It displays endurance in the present aeon of wickedness and injustice (Rom. 12:2; 1 Cor. 3:7). Actively it produces good works (Rom. 2:7), passively it endures under suffering (2 Th. 1:4; cf. 1 Pet. 2:20). Unlike Greek ethics, which regards the passive suffering of evil as shameful, Christians know that they are called to suffer (Acts 14:22), and they show their faith by persevering all the same (cf. 2 Tim. 2:10). Affliction produces endurance, and endurance character (Rom. 5:34). This endurance, which differs from God’s forbearance, since God is subject to no external pressure, is never a complaining or despondent endurance. It is given by God (Rom. 15:5) and is closely related to faith and love (1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 3:10). Tit. 2:2 has the triad faith, love, and (hoping) steadfastness. If hope focuses on the future, the steadfastness of hope is its expression in the present time of affliction. It has the promise that those who die with Christ, if they endure, shall also reign with him (2 Tim. 2:11..12).
William S. Plumer writes that…
This patience is the fruit of God's Spirit. Paul prayed that his Colossian converts "might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering, with joyfulness." Col. 1:10, 11. Every good gift comes from heaven. Human nature is impatient, self-willed, restless, turbulent. Men must be taught of God, or they never will know anything to purpose. Accustomed as men are, to some kinds or degrees of inconvenience, conscious as they ought to be that they deserve far worse than ever befalls them—yet all this is to no purpose until God by his Spirit gives them affections and principles which are quite above the measure and strength of nature.
That this grace enters into the essentials of Christian character, is certain from the fact that it is twice so catalogued. In 1 Tim. 6:11, Paul exhorts Timothy to "follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." And in Galatians 5:22, 23, he says the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." He who dares erase from either catalogue a single word, takes great liberties with sacred things, and brings his soul into jeopardy. It is also obvious from the very nature of holiness, and from the nature of heavenly things. Would not a fiery, impatient spirit, be every way as unlovely and as unfit for the society above, as the spirit of revenge, of pride, or of covetousness?
If we have an impatient temper, occasions and temptations will not be lacking to elicit it. The world is full of evil-doers and evil-doings, of evil-speakers and evil-speeches, of evil-surmisers and evil-surmisings. " (Vital Godliness - Patience - If you are an impatient individual this would be a good treatise to read!)
Gentleness (4239)b (praupathia) describes composure or a calm disposition. mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness."
Michaelis in TDNT says that praupathia
is not so much “meekness” as “composure” in face of wrongs.
Steven Cole adds that…
The word doesn’t mean meekness in the sense of weakness. Timid Timothy wouldn’t need to pursue that quality, since he seemed to have plenty of it! Rather, it means strength under control. The root word was used of Alexander’s horse, a mighty and powerful animal, but completely broken, responsive to its master’s commands. As the very next word shows, a gentle man must fight. But he doesn’t fight for his own way, out of self-will, but for God’s way in submission to God’s will. (Going the Distance)
The Greek Textus Receptus has the related word (4240) prautes which in ancient Greece was sometimes used of a feigned, hypocritical concern for others that is motivated by self-interest. But in the New Testament it is always used of genuine consideration for others.
Prautes denotes the humble and gentle attitude which expresses itself, in particular, in a patient submissiveness to offense, free from malice and desire for revenge… controlled strength, the ability to bear reproaches and slights without bitterness and resentment; the ability to provide a soothing influence on someone who is in a state of anger, bitterness and resentment against life… the word indicates an obedient submissiveness to God and His will, with unwavering faith and enduring patience displaying itself in a gentle attitude and kind acts toward others, and this often in the face of opposition. It is the restrained and obedient powers of the personality brought into subjection and submission to God’s will by the Holy Spirit (see note Gal 5:23)… the opposite of arrogance… the word stands in contrast to the term orge (wrath, anger as a state of mind)… It denotes the humble and gentle attitude which expresses itself, in particular, in a patient submissiveness to offense, a freedom from malice and desire for revenge… mildness, patient trust in the midst of difficult circumstances. (2Cor 10:1) (Compiled from the Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek NT)
Prautes was used in secular Greek writings to describe a soothing wind, a healing medicine, and a colt that had been broken. In each instance, there is power for a wind can become a storm, too much medicine can kill and a horse can break loose. Thus prautes describes power under control.
Prautes is an interesting word. Aristotle defined it as the correct mean between being too angry and being never angry at all. It is the quality of the man whose anger is so controlled that he is always angry at the right time and never at the wrong time. It describes the man who is never angry at any personal wrong he may receive, but who is capable of righteous anger when he sees others wronged.
The meek person does not have to fly off the handle because he has everything under control. A perfect picture is found in our Lord Jesus Christ. Quoting from the Septuagint (LXX = Greek of the Hebrew Old Testament) rendering of Zechariah 9:9, which predicts the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Matthew uses the adjective form of prautes (praus) to describe Jesus as
“gentle (praus) and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden” (Mt 21:5).
In a gracious appeal to His followers, Jesus used the same adjective of Himself, saying,
James uses prautes in his discussion of a teachable spirit instructing his readers to
Therefore (to "achieve the righteousness of God" and manifest ourselves as "the firstfruits among His creatures") putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility (prautes) receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. (James. 1:21-note)
Trench describes the related Greek word praotēs which is also translated meekness (and in fact is the word used in the Textus Receptus from which the KJV derives)
It is that temper of spirit in which we accept God's dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting… This meekness, however, being first of all a meekness before God, is also such in the face of men, even of evil men, out of a sense that these, with the insults and injuries which they may inflict, are permitted and employed by Him for the chastening and purifying of His elect.
Trench adds that prautes
“is closely linked with humility, and follows directly upon it (Eph 4:2-note; Col 3:12-note) because it is only the humble heart which is also the meek; and which, as such, does not fight against God, and more or less struggle and contend with Him. This meekness, however, being first of all meekness before God, is also such in the face of men, even of evil men, out of a sense that these, with the insults and injuries which they may inflict, are permitted and employed by Him for the chastening and purifying of His elect. This was the root of David’s (meekness) when Shimei cursed and flung stones at him—the consideration that the Lord had bidden him (2Sa 16:11), that it was just for him to suffer these things, however unjustly the other might inflict them; and out of like convictions all true Christian (meekness) must spring. He that is meek indeed will know himself a sinner among sinners… and this knowledge of his own sin will teach him to endure meekly the provocations with which they may provoke him, and not withdraw himself from the burdens which their sin may impose (Ibid)
Matthew Henry in his lengthy discussion of meekness writes that …
The occasions and provocations of anger often set our meekness at a distance from us, and we have it to seek when we have most need of it; but we must follow after it, and not be taken off from the pursuit by any diversion whatever. While others are ingenious and industrious enough in following after malice and revenge, projecting and prosecuting angry designs, you be wise and diligent to preserve the peace both within doors and without. Following meekness bespeaks a sincere desire and a serious endeavor to get the mastery of our passion, and to check, govern, and moderate all the motions of it. Though we cannot fully attain this mastery, yet we must follow after it, and aim at it. Follow meekness, that is, as much as it is in you, live peacefully with all men, endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit: we can only make one side of the bargain; if others will quarrel, yet let us be peaceful; if others will strike fire, that is their fault; let us not be as tinder to it. (Excerpt from A Discourse on Meekness and Quietness of Spirit)
J R Miller…
Gentleness is a beautiful quality. It is essential to all true character. Nobody admires ungentleness in either man or woman. When a man is harsh, cold, unfeeling, unkind, and crude and rough in his manner—no one speaks of his fine disposition. When a woman is loud-voiced, dictatorial, petulant, given to speaking bitter words and doing unkindly things—no person is ever heard saying of her, "What a lovely disposition she has!" She may have many excellent qualities, and may do much good—but her ungentleness mars the beauty of her character.
No man is truly great, who is not gentle. "Your gentleness has made me great." Psalm 18:35. Courage and strength and truth and justness and righteousness are essential elements in a manly character; but if all these be in a man and gentleness be lacking—the life is sadly flawed.
Don’t Rust Out - On June 15, 1957, a brand-new car was buried in a concrete vault under the courthouse lawn in Tulsa. In June 2007, the car was unearthed as the city celebrated Oklahoma’s 100th year of statehood. Writing in the Tulsa World, Randy Krehbiel said: “Now we know what 50 years in a hole does to a Plymouth Belvedere.” Water seeping into the vault had turned the once shiny car into a rusted monument to the past. A hot-rod expert hired to start the engine pronounced it “hopeless.”
Spiritual inactivity corrodes the soul like moisture acting on metal. Paul urged Timothy, his young protégé, to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (1 Tim. 6:11). This command had no expiration date attached to it. The spiritual disciplines require continued attention throughout our lives. If rest becomes our goal, then rust is right behind.
Oswald Chambers said: “The intellect works with the greatest intensity when it works continuously; the more you do, the more you can do. We must work hard to keep in trim for God. Clean off the rust and keep bright by use.”
Our capabilities may vary with age, but pursuing the righteous life to which God has called us should never end. Don’t rust out!
For Further Study: For practical advice on how to keep spiritually active as we age, you may wish to read Finishing Well
Spiritual inactivity corrodes the soul.