A Good Fight of Faith Read: First Timothy 6:11-21
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.
First Timothy 6.10-11 (NRSV)
The letters to Timothy and Titus are called Pastoral Epistles. They contain encouragement and instructions from the Apostle Paul to his (young?) associates—Timothy in Ephesus and Titus in Crete. Technically, these men were not pastors but rather Paul’s representatives with authority to act in the churches on his behalf. Perhaps more than any other New Testament epistles, these books remind us that what for us is holy scripture, was at one point merely personal correspondence from a mentor to his students.
In Ephesus, Timothy was beset by some who think that godliness is a means of gain (First Timothy 6.5). Greek teachers always charged for their instruction, why not Christians? Even though Paul reminded Timothy we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; some were not content with food and clothing; they had a desire for possessions (v. 7). This passage is one of the strongest rebukes against covetousness in the scriptures. The Apostle confessed that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith (v. 10). And so Paul’s advice to Timothy was simple and straightforward: shun all this and pursue righteousness. (v. 11). Paul was conceding that some temptations are so insidious, so subtle, that the only way to resist them is to get away from them. It is also important not only to run from something but to run toward something else. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness (v. 11). These items are not new (Galatians 5.22-23). They are the attitudes and behaviors a believer employs to fight the good fight of the faith (v. 12). Here Paul uses one of his favorite analogies and compares living the Christian life with the energy and intense discipline of a trained athlete.
Paul’s personal instructions still have weight and truth today. In an era where the Christian faith has been tied so closely to material gain, we do well to remember such lures are not easy to resist. We have to fight the good fight of faith
Reverend Steven B. Lawrence