Pastor John has prepared brief devotions for the newsletter during each week of his sabbatical (July 1-September 30). Each passage is a favorite of Pastor John.
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. 2 Timothy 2:22
A couple years ago, I came across a wonderful book series about food. The first book is Eat This, Not That, which was followed by Drink This, Not That. Both books explain the calories and chemicals (yes, chemicals) found in the foods and drinks we eat. What is great about both books is that they don’t only say “Stop eating/drinking X,” but they give alternatives.
Once in a while, we come across something in scripture that is lucid, practical and hard to question. 2 Timothy 2:22 is one such verse. Like the books mentioned above, the verse tells us what not to do while also telling us what will be beneficial for us.
Timothy was a young pastor who Paul had left in Ephesus to deal with some false teaching that had taken hold of the Christians in that community. Timothy was mentored by Paul, and Paul was in prison awaiting execution when he wrote two letters to his young charge. The second letter has more of a “last words” kind of feel, as if Paul knows his time is short and he has important things to tell Timothy.
Now, you may be wondering what is so evil about youth? The verse begins with “Flee the evil desires of youth.” I still remember what it was like when I was young. I was arrogant, self-centered, and I was convinced I was right about every issue. And not only so, I was willing to take a hard stand on anything and everything. There were no grey areas. Additionally, most of the dumb mistakes of my youth outshine most of the mistakes I made later in life. Paul is instructing Timothy to be careful not to be led by passion and feelings alone, for they may lead to some really big and bad mistakes.
Instead, Paul encourages Timothy to, “pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” In other words, pursue what is good along with the people of God.
This is a good word for all of us for one simple reason. Focusing on doing good is so much easier than focusing on what is bad. To try and stop a bad behavior without replacing it with a good behavior is going to leave us focusing on the bad.
If you are trying to stop certain bad behaviors in your life, I encourage you to find good ones with which to replace it. You will be happier and enjoy greater success!