An Urgent And Personal Appeal

By Alfred Bouter

“But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue • righteousness • godliness • faith • love • patience • gentleness.” —1 Timothy 6:11 NKJV

Our Lord Jesus Christ has been the true “Man of God” on earth and He is so now in heaven. He will always remain the true Man of God because He will never stop being a Man, even though He is also God (Phil. 2:8). While He is absent from this world, all true believers are to represent Him here.

Paul’s instructions were given on behalf of the Lord Jesus and were addressed to Christians – many of whom were literal slaves or bond servants. They knew the master-slave relationship, and therefore Paul applied that association to believers in general: All Christians are bondmen, serving the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition to the prerequisite of being a true, born again believer, we need certain qualities to properly carry out what the Lord wants us to accomplish. These qualities are summarized in the charge Paul gave to Timothy (1 Tim. 6:11).

While the apostle was in prison in Rome for the testimony of our Lord Jesus (Acts 28; Eph. 3:1), he sent his young, timid disciple – but who was devoted to Christ’s interests – as his representative to Ephesus. We don’t know exactly when Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy, but its instructions as to how to behave in the House of God (1 Tim. 3:14-15) are still valid today. Second Timothy suggests to us that, sadly, the majority of Christians in Ephesus did not follow these instructions. However, God’s truths do not change because of failure or rejection. They remain the same, standing fast, firm as a rock in stormy seas.

Even while in a Roman prison, bound 1 to a soldier (Acts 21:33, 28:20; Eph. 6:20), the apostle Paul represented Christ who is in heaven. Paul learned to introduce the Lord Jesus Christ into all the details of his life. Timothy, in a scene of rejection here on earth, needed to do the same. As believers and disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ we are left here to follow Him in all the details of our lives and to represent our Lord in the same world that crucified Him – even among those who profess Christ yet reject His claims. Timothy represented Paul in an area where the apostle had diligently worked several years earlier with remarkable results for the honor of the Lord in heaven (Acts 19-20).

This younger servant of the Lord was devoted to his tutor – learning much and following faithfully just as Paul followed Christ (see 1 Cor. 11:1). Many Christians are not willing to learn from Paul or to follow him in this world, for they find fault with him or criticize his teaching.2 They may not realize this, but by rejecting Paul they also reject the One who sent him – our Lord in the glory.

Challenges Then And Now
Timothy faced many challenges in order to remain a faithful disciple and loyal servant, without compromise, of the Lord Jesus. To stay away from dangers and vices and to pursue what was right, he needed certain positive qualities, as Paul elaborated in detail. Timothy also had to flee from the lust of money.

The apostle mentioned the simplicity of contentment as shown in his own example, which was also valid for slaves (1 Tim. 6:2). This kind of contentment, linked with godliness or piety, was under attack by the enemy (see vv.3-5). By depending on God and introducing Christ into every detail of life, a true man of God or genuine believer will be led into satisfaction and contentment. Those who reject the simplicity of the life of faith and godliness have a different agenda, causing themselves and others to be hurt by lust and the wiles of the enemy, with sad consequences (vv.7-10).

But You … Rely On God
In contrast to the disobedient (4:1-3), Timothy was to face the challenges before him and be different from the people who surrounded him – including the worldly, or carnal, believers and mere professors (1 Tim. 6:11). Likewise, Hebrews 11 lists encouraging examples of believers who truly learned to rely on God. This made them different, for without faith we cannot please God (v.6).

Enoch lived in a godless society that was marked by rebellion, sin and corruption (Gen. 4-6). When he turned 65 he had a son whom he named Methuselah. As far as we know, this son lived to be the oldest man, dying at an age of 969 in the year of Noah’s flood (Gen. 5:27). Scripture specifically says that Enoch – whose name means “instructed” – walked with God day by day until He took him from the earth (vv.22,24). Similarly, the Lord wants to teach us in the school of God to rely on Him until He will come and take us away (1 Th. 4:16-18).

Abraham, although a descendant from the godly Seth (Gen. 11:10-32), was steeped in the idolatry which had started with the Tower of Babel (Gen. 10-11). God called Abraham away from this idol worship (Josh. 24:2-3; Acts 7:2-3) to make him the father of all believers (Rom. 4). This fits with our key verse, “flee these things” (1 Tim. 6:11), in order to be a man3 of God. Despite some failures in Abraham’s life, he was marked by true love of God and therefore was called “the friend of God” (Jas. 2:23). This love motivated Abraham to be different from the people around him, including his nephew Lot who was a believer but fell short in showing his faith. Abraham learned to persistently rely on the God 4 who had called him and promised to give to him a son and heir (Gen. 17, 21). As Abraham and Timothy had to learn to rely on God, so we must learn to rely on Him, for the Lord Jesus said, “Without Me you cannot do anything” (Jn. 15:5).

“Pursue Righteousness”
A man of God must flee certain things: lust, sin and idolatry – a study in itself. He or she is marked by practical righteousness by doing what is right and by being in tune with God, who is just. Such a believer actively pursues a path of what is right and just. Of course God desires every believer to live in this way, but a man of God pursues a path of righteousness in the midst of unrighteousness, even in the presence of believers who fail to do so and do not maintain God’s rights.

God is always characterized by what is right – He never can be “un-right” – just as He is light without the possibility of darkness (Jas. 1:17). We are God’s children (v.18), and it is pretty clear what He expects of us. God cannot compromise His divine standards and features. Consider the Lord Jesus: In order to maintain God’s rights – He “loved righteousness and hated wickedness” (Ps. 45:7) – He gave Himself as a sacrifice to be the Substitute for those who had sinned and would never be able to pay their debt or undo their sins. On the basis of what Christ accomplished once and for all, God desires us, all believers, to follow Christ’s example. We are to do what is right in a world opposed to God’s rights.

In the world to come, under the Lord’s perfect rule, God’s rights will be enforced (Ps. 2). But now we live in the period when “grace reigns through righteousness” (Rom. 5:21). Surrounded by all kinds of unrighteousness, God wants Christ’s disciples to follow closely after righteousness, to pursue what is right in moral and practical agreement with Himself who is light and whose children we are.

Godliness, Faith, Love, Patience, Gentleness
Although separated from Paul who was in prison and rejected by many Christians, Timothy was to do seven things. We need to do these things as well, following Paul’s instructions. The first is to flee from certain things, as we already mentioned. Then there are six5 things to closely follow or pursue with great zeal: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Having pondered points as to righteousness we will briefly consider the remaining qualities that are needed to be a faithful disciple.

  • Godliness means the fear of God – the reverential respect because of love. This is “the fear of the Lord” mentioned often in the Old Testament. It implies the quality or ability to introduce God and Christ into the many and varied details of our daily lives, while serving God and others. Contentment is linked to godliness (6:6) and implies that one has learned in daily life that God is sufficient. A believer can rely on Him without fearing defeat or failure because He is faithful (v.8). This is how Paul had learned to rely on the Lord Jesus Christ, who strengthened him in all his circumstances and provided for all his needs – as He does for us (Phil. 4:13,19).
  • Faith implies that one puts his trust in God (see Heb. 11), but it also means to be faithful in the calling, position, relationship or task He has given. Timothy needed this faith and faithfulness in Paul’s days, and we are still in need of them today. We need to have faith in God and be faithful so the Lord can rely on us as we rely on Him.
  • Love is the opposite of the love of money, which makes money its best friend (v.10) and is truly idolatry. Love represents the new nature God gave to us the moment we believed, when His love was poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit whom He has given us (Rom. 5:5). The new nature needs to be nurtured, and our relationship with God and the family of God must be cultivated through prayer, and reading and obeying Scripture. Paul emphasized this point in his counsel to Timothy knowing that faith and love go together with hope (1 Cor. 13:13).
  • Patience literally means the ability to endure, or to go on while being under a burden. For more details, read Romans 5:3-5.
  • Gentleness is another quality6 we learn from the Lord Jesus (Mt. 11:29) and Paul’s example. It implies an attitude of humility, courtesy and meekness (not weakness).

Paul’s urgent and personal appeal to Timothy7 is as urgent today as it was then. May the Lord help us to follow these instructions which He has passed on to us through the apostle Paul, so we will honor His name.

1. Probably almost five years later Paul was chained in Rome (2 Tim. 1:16) once again, but under conditions that were much worse than during his first Roman captivity.
2. This is why Paul introduced his instructions with the words “but you,” making a contrast between Timothy and those who opposed Paul’s example and teachings. The same words for the same reason are also found in 2 Timothy 3:10,14, 4:5; and later with respect to Titus (Ti. 2:1), but they are not always translated literally.
3. To avoid misunderstanding, the term “man of God” could be translated “human of God,” and it implies a challenge for all believing men and women, brothers and sisters in Christ, to be exercised and function according to Paul’s instructions. This is never to be done in a boastful way but always as an instrument fit for the Master’s use.
4. Romans 4:16-22 outlines seven points: 1. Abraham believed God, for he put his trust in the One who quickens, or makes alive, the dead (v.17); 2. He did so against hope, facing an impossible situation (v.18); 3. He was not weak in faith, despite his own and Sarah’s physical condition (v.19); 4. He hesitated not at God’s promise (first part of v.20); 5. He was strengthened in his faith (middle of v.20); 6. Abraham gave glory to God, before anything was fulfilled (end of v.20). 7. For he was fully convinced that God was able to fulfill His promises (v.21). How great was Abraham’s faith, and how great is our God!
5. When we list the various instructions Paul gave Timothy in 1 Timothy 6, in addition to his “charge” that we study in this paper, ten points can be counted: the number of responsibility.
6. The root of this word occurs 16 times in the Greek New Testament, found in different words. The word used in 1 Timothy 6:11 is linked to the verb “to suffer,” and it only occurs here. Following Christ’s example of humility implies suffering.
7. His name may be interpreted as “honoring God” or “whom God honors.”

Author: Sebastien

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