Recently I had the privileged of working with 30 youth and children’s workers on a BA in Mission and Ministry. We started each day by studying 2 Timothy together and praying.
I have always liked this book and especially the picture of the older Paul passing on wisdom and advice to his much younger protégé Timothy. You can almost imagine Paul sitting in his rocking chair (not sure they would have had them in middle eastern culture, but you get the picture!) mulling over his life and advising Timothy on what he should do if he wanted to persevere in the Christian life.
Having read this book may times before I was surprised to be challenged by a verse that I have never really paid much attention to and it got me thinking over what it would mean for me and my relationship with God. So come with me on a journey for the next few minutes and reflect with me on the questions that were raised.
The verse is 2 Timothy 2:22 ‘Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart’.
What are the evil desires of my youth that I am to flee from? As a young girl brought up in a very moral working class family I was never into sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, but I know that I was selfish and liked my own way. I wanted to make money and I suppose was quite greedy; Paul is encouraging me to flee from these things. What were the evil desires of your youth?
He then goes on to say that while we must flee from these things we are to pursue other things. Righteousness – how can you and I pursue this? What would it look like in your life if you were to pursue this important characteristic of God? Where in your life do you need to stand up against injustice and what is unrighteous; it will be different for each of us.
Paul goes on to say that we are to pursue faith, love and peace; what would that look like for you? In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus talks about us belong peacemakers and not just peacekeepers. Are you allowing things to happen in your life, family, workplace and church that you are being apathetic towards in order to keep the peace? And by doing this you are colluding with what is happening? What would it look like for you to pursue peace – to be a peacemaker – in this situation?
I found this verse very challenging and I hope you do too. Ask God to help you apply it to your life and see how he wants to transform you as a result. It might be hard to do, but it will bring great joy in the end as you will be pursing these things with a pure heart. You know it makes sense!!
Sharon Prior is a freelance trainer and mentor who lectures at Cliff College and is a trustee and cofounder of the Sophia Network