Chasing the Right Things in 2017
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It was a warm, clear summer evening when some friends and I decided to engage in one of the most invigorating, death-defying, heart-racing teenage pranks. You guessed it, ding-dong ditch. It’s a simple game. Ring someone’s doorbell then run and hide secretly watching the typical frustrated response. We found a house, walked to the door and pressed the glowing button. Ding-dong! My friends and I quickly hid behind the utility box, and while trying to contain our laughter, the unimaginable happened.
The large, shirtless middle-aged man leaped off his front porch and began to chase us wearing only his undergarments. Funeral arrangements were inevitable. As we ran from one front yard to the next, the fear of death gripped every second as thoughts of my final moments of life raced through my mind. Was he going to beat us up? Were we going to receive a tongue lashing? Thankfully I didn’t have to find out! Suffice it to say; my ding-dong ditch days have since been retired.
That night my friends and I were in pursuit of what we thought would be a good time, and we ended up running for our lives!
That night my friends and I were in pursuit of what we thought would be a good time, and we ended up running for our lives! In 2 Timothy 2:22, the Apostle Paul provides valuable advice to Timothy regarding what to run from to pursue something better. Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace.
The ESV says to flee “youthful passions” and The Message says “infantile indulgences” (which just sounds astute). At the beginning of a new year, this passage provides valuable insights for us experiencing more of God’s presence and power in 2017.
We should pursue righteous living
Spiritual growth doesn’t happen by accident, and Paul says the first thing we should pursue is righteous living. This means living rightly, which points to the fact that there’s a wrong way to live.
Ephesians 5:15-16a instructs us to “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time…” One aspect of righteous living is evaluating how we spend our time.
Living righteously means we will constantly be fleeing from some things to pursue the best things.
Does the unimportant consume our time, or are we strategically looking for opportunities to make a positive impact in the environments we find ourselves in (i.e. home, workplace, etc.)?
Living righteously means we will constantly be fleeing from some things to pursue the best things. In 2017, how do you need to reorganize your schedule and the things that consume your time to pursue a life characterized by righteousness?
We are to be faithful
The idea of faithfulness is an increasingly fleeting virtue. What is promoted through the media, music and the entertainment industry is quite the opposite, but believers have been called to demonstrate the faithfulness of God through our living to a faithless world.
Paul writes just a few verses earlier, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). God’s character is one of faithfulness, and as his people, we are called to pursue a life of commitment to Him and righteous living.
This means that as an employee, as a friend, as a spouse, and as a parent I want to become more and more faithful as I mature as a believer. Are there areas in your walk with the Lord that started strong last year but slowly dissipated? Are there things you were asking God for but gave up on because you got tired of waiting? A life characterized by faithfully seeking and serving the Lord will result in experiencing the incredible faithfulness of God.
A life characterized by faithfully seeking and serving the Lord will result in experiencing the incredible faithfulness of God.
We are to love others
Jesus said that people (the lost) will know we are believers by the way we treat and love one another. We don’t love conditionally, based on agreement, we love unconditionally because that’s how Christ loves.
The Message describes God’s love in Ephesians 5:2 this way:
Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
If we want to learn how to love as Christ loves, we must spend time with Him and learn from His example. As we see in this passage, loving people is not motivated by what we can gain, but by what Christ gave. When we understand the magnitude of God’s love for us, it will make loving others the same way possible.
We are to reflect God’s peace to others
Jesus taught in Matthew 5:9 that blessed are the peacemakers. He also says In John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” Jesus first points to the blessing of peace and then to the source of peace.
God’s desire is that our lives bring peace into the situations and relationships we are engaged in. Some good questions to consider include: Am I striving for peace in my family, in my workplaces and my Life Group? Do I pour fuel on the fire of gossip and negativity or is my conversation refreshing and life-giving?
God’s desire is that our lives bring peace into the situations and relationships we are engaged in.
It’s interesting that each of these worthwhile pursuits in 2 Timothy all point us back to our Savior as the example and the source. Meaning that if we are going to pursue the right things in 2017, if we’re going to see God’s power in our lives in a powerful dimension, we must commit to a deeper relationship with Him above all other activities.
So as you head into 2017, what do you need to run from to pursue God’s best for your life? As you pursue Him with everything, the results will be evident, and your life will make an impact greater than you could have ever imagined.