“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. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.”
~2 Timothy 2:22-23 (NIV).
It was Timothy’s task to fall in under Paul and receive his urging and encouraging admonishments; today we all have roles as mentors and mentees, respectively. It’s how the world subsists from faith and education to the moral advancement of each person in a growth journey necessary for the human race to survive, not tearing itself apart.
Fleeing the Desires
We all know only too well the power of our laden desires. Some we’ve managed to harness; others we’ve controlled less successfully and they continue to cling like weighty baggage around our potential—marring our otherwise ‘pure heartedness.’
Like changing any bad habit, we need to focus positively.
Paul says, “pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.” Pursuing means “go after,” as if our lives depended on it—and our spiritual lives do. Unreconciled desires are potentially the falling of us.
The proper fear of the Lord—regarding warnings surrounding the potential for negative consequences, and the availability of the second chance now—focuses us positively.
The Holy Spirit convicts us of the need to change.
When we tackle the pursuit of these issues with much candour and ardour we tend to eventually ‘crowd out’ the feeble desire—making its weak power known for what it actually is. Before we conquered this power—in God’s Name—it seemed insurmountable. Using the power of our mind and our will we cooperated with God’s power to the purifying of our lives. Only then did we realise that we could’ve tapped this power of God’s anytime.
So, when we flee, we run not from the negative habits of the flesh, but we run to the empowering aspects of righteousness, faith, love and peace—the very issues of jettisoned fear; the risen power of Jesus to overcome.
Arguments per se are not always bad; it’s the foolish and stupid ones that Paul is exhorting against here.
Of course, this entire issue—over whether to argue or not—depends on the hearts of the individuals concerned. Those harbouring love will argue constructively and objectively, ‘focussing on the ball and not the man’ (football-speak).
Those, however, harbouring malice will infuriate the process and they’ll seek to infuriate us. The argument is hence simply a means to an end for these. Our wisdom is commended for sorting out the purposes of the heart as to whom we argue with, when we’ll do it and why we’ll argue.
Some arguments have little point. Why would we waste our time? Even times when the issue is ‘arguable’ do we really have to enter that arena?
Everyone has their view and the key point is having respect for the other person, whilst having the self respect of holding to our views in wisdom i.e. changing our minds—and doing it quick-smart, beyond our pride—if the Spirit within us convicts us to our falsity.
We’re well informed to read and meditate over, also, verses 24–26 of 2 Timothy 2.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.