One of the things I like to do as I read the scriptures is write down just one thing, one quick takeaway from the section. For me, it’s a process that helps me move from simply reading the Word to allowing the Word to read me.
It’s a simple practice that anybody can do, it helps to reinforce what I’ve read, and it gives me an opportunity to engage with what the Holy Spirit might be trying to teach me.
This is my “quick thought” from today’s reading in 1 Timothy 4-6.
“Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” ~1 Timothy 6:11
Who wouldn’t want these traits!
It’s sounds good, but then I think about how countercultural these characteristics are, and I realize how difficult it is to pursue this lifestyle.
Our culture has a justified distain for self-righteousness, but the righteousness we are called to pursue is a humble righteousness that trusts in the work of Jesus because we have been made right with God through him. It’s a humble and grateful righteousness that trusts in his work, not our own.
Faith reveals the realities of our true hope. Faith is the evidence of things we cannot see, but in a world that overemphasizes concrete realities, “faith” has little value beyond sentimental nostalgia. Read through Hebrews 11 and consider the faith of those who’ve gone before us. All the “giants of faith” were ridiculed and mocked by the world for the audacity of their faith and yet in the end, it was their foundation of faith that revealed the realities of God.
God’s love and the love our culture proclaims are very different. The world’s love is self-preserving, and the love of God is self-sacrificing. We see the full extent of this love in Jesus Christ who, in spite of his full divinity, humbled himself to be a child, limited himself to the three dimensions of his created world, patiently waited for the time he created to pass as he grew, breathed the air we breath, ate the food we eat, and became “obedient to death.” He gave all of himself so that we could know and be included in his love. This is the real love we pursue, self-limiting, self-giving, self-emptying, self-sacrificing love!
Perseverance and endurance are highly regarded in our culture, but troubles, difficulties, and trials are not. Our culture values comfort and convenience. Too often, we want the trophy without the training, the acknowledgment without the effort, but perseverance does not grow in comfort. It is only in the “fiery furnace” were perseverance is forged and we learn to trust in the work Jesus has done for us.
We value strength and power. Most of the world’s political structures are built on the “strongman theory of leadership.” Nobody requests a gentle leader unless they understand how fragile they are. A good parent is gentle with a child, and a good physical therapist is gentle with a patient. Each knows when to push and when to hold back, and each works hard to earn the trust of those they lead. When we follow Jesus, we can trust that he knows how to gently teach us, push us, and lead us. The gentleness Jesus leads us with is the same gentleness we pursue in hopes of earning the right to lead others to the only place they can find true rest for their souls.
The countercultural lifestyle of Jesus is one of righteousness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. That’s what we pursue when we follow him, and our souls can rest in his perfect gentleness as he lead us through the “fiery furnaces” of life.
This is what I heard in today’s reading, what did you hear?
#1Timothy6:11 #2Corinthians5:21 #Hebrews11:1 #1John4:16 #Philippians2:8 #James1:3 #Daniel3:18 #Matthew11:29