DUNCAN/Flee and pursue
Please turn to 2 Timothy 2:22-26. Throughout this letter to Timothy, Paul has repeatedly given glorious directions and imperatives to this young minister regarding ministry. Additionally, we have seen that these instructions that the Apostle Paul gives to Timothy are not just for Timothy, but they are for all of the people of God, that is, for the church. Now, in this passage, we are going to look at eight imperatives; but it is important to understand that the message is actually much simpler than that. In fact, Paul’s message to Timothy, and God’s message to you and me today, is that Timothy’s teaching in the church is to have the focus, it is to have the aim, it is to have the design of promoting edification and unity in the local congregation. With these things in mind, let us look together at this series of specific directives that Paul gives to Timothy.
I. The true minister (and growing disciple) are to flee from youthful passions.
In verse 22, Paul says, “Now flee from youthful lusts.” In other words, Paul is telling Timothy that the true minister and the growing disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, flees from youthful passions. He’s saying, “Timothy, as you deal with people that are opposing the truth, as you deal with people that are teaching false doctrine in the church, and as you attempt to preach the truth that is unto godliness, you must avoid those youthful impulses and passions that will leave you vulnerable to headstrong behavior, to partiality, to quick-temperedness, and to self-assertion.” The Apostle Paul is saying to Timothy, and to us, “Flee!” Run from youthful passions. Get as far away from them as you can. Don’t let them have any kind of influence on the direction of your behavior.”
II. The true minister (and growing disciple) pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.
Notice also in verse 22 that Paul doesn’t just say to stop doing these things, but he says, in addition to “fleeing”, to “pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” Rather than being carried away by impulsive passions, fix your eyes on pursuing righteousness. When Paul says, “pursue”, he means make an all-out effort to reach a goal. He is telling us to turn that excessive tendency of our own impetuosity or our own impulses into an energy that is wholly focused on growth in holiness. And notice how he says to cultivate them. Paul says to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace “along with all who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” He’s saying, “We can’t do this alone.” We need God’s people coming alongside of us if we are going to pursue single-mindedly love and faith and peace and righteousness. We need the help, the encouragement, and the example of God’s people.
III. The true minister (and growing disciple) refuse to hear foolish and ignorant speculations.
In verse 23, Paul tells Timothy to “refuse foolish and ignorant speculations.” He is telling Timothy not to get caught up in un-instructive wrangling about false speculations. Paul wants Timothy’s teaching to produce godliness, maturity, and growth in grace. He wants to see the church built up. He wants to see people loving God more, understanding the gospel more, sharing their faith, and living the Christian life. Therefore, he says avoid anything that sidetracks you from sound teaching.
IV. The true minister (and growing disciple) are not quarrelsome.
In verse 23, Paul also says, “the Lord’s bondservant must not be quarrelsome.” True servants of the Lord love edification instead of disagreements. This reminds us too, doesn’t it, that unity does not just happen in the church. It is the consequence of deliberate effort on the part of the ministry of the word, and we need to remember that as well, as we deal with one another in theological disagreements.
V. The true minister (and growing disciple) are kind.
In verse 24 Paul says, The Lord’s bond-servant must “be kind to all.” In other words, the true Christian minister, the growing Christian disciple, is going to have a demeanor that promotes edification and unity. A demeanor of kindness and love is the context in which truth unto godliness flourishes. It is the means by which quarrels can be avoided and unity and edification promoted.
VI. The true minister is able to teach (and the growing disciple is teachable and loves the teaching).
In verse 24, Paul also says that the true minister is “able to teach.” Now, when Paul says to Timothy that he must be able to teach, he’s not just saying, “Timothy, you have to know stuff that your student doesn’t know,” although that is true. What he’s saying is, “If you are able to teach, Timothy, then your people will show your teaching in their lives.” He wants that truth to take hold of them so that they not only know things that they didn’t know before, but that the things that they come to know change everything about how they live their lives. He is looking for life-transformation.
VII. The true minister (and growing disciple) are patient when wronged.
Additionally in verse 24, Paul tells Timothy that he is to be “patient when wronged.” In other words, the true teacher, for the sake of the edification of the body, is not going to be easily offended. When wronged, he’s going to be patient and he’s going to manifest a forgiving spirit. Why? Because his aim is edification and unity in the church. His goal is not to silence all objections, to save face, or to build up his reputation; his goal is edification and unity among believers.
VIII. The true minister (and growing disciple) are gentle in correcting the misguided.
The last thing we see in verses 25-26 is that the true minister and growing disciple are to be gentle in correcting those who are misguided. Specifically, in verse 25 Paul says, “with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition; if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.” Did you ever realize that all true Christian teaching, when you receive it, requires some repentance on our part? For example, when we have thought that our behavior squared up with the demands of God’s law, and through the faithful teaching of God’s word we find out that it doesn’t, it calls for repentance. So, true teaching always aims at engaging someone in order that they might be led to repentance and faith. All growth in Christian knowledge entails repentance. The way we grow is to embrace that truth, to repent of our sin, and then to go back to the Savior and long to fellowship with Him, whom to know is life eternal. May God grant us the grace we need, by the Holy Spirit, to receive these truths.