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Pursue . . .
by Philip Owen

          Be honest, believer, what did you pursue today? We may follow something by virtue of circumstances that befall us. (For example, I follow someone to church who happens to be driving in front of me.) But pursuit requires conscious, deliberate choice of the will and action to make that choice happen. Some of us pursued our careers; some of us pursued a relationship; some of us pursued our favorite pastime. Those pursuits involved both will and effort. But what of Paul’s instruction to the young pastor, Timothy, whom he exhorted to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness” (1 Tim. 6:11)? To pursue is “to seek after earnestly; earnestly endeavor to acquire” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). Can you and I say that has been our objective today?

            Righteousness. Have I earnestly endeavored to acquire righteousness today? Since speaking to a believer, Paul is not referencing the imputed righteousness of Christ that equates to salvation but rather the practical righteous works that a believer is to manifest. Was I consciously seeking to do the good works for which Christ saved me to manifest to His glory?

            Godliness. Though the distinctions should never be considered exclusive, when the two terms are used in conjunction, the term righteousness has as its focus the external acts that conform to God’s will whereas the term godliness has as its focus internal motives: love and reverence for God and a desire for His glory. Has God’s glory been in the forefront of my mind and heart in what I did or did not do today?

            Faith. As with the term righteousness, the term faith is not referring to God-given trust leading to eternal life. Nor does it refer to “the faith,” the body of revealed truth. It speaks of that moment-by-moment confidence in and reliance upon the Lord. Did a trial today shake my faith in God’s love or goodness? Has a season of health and ease made me (perhaps unconsciously) less reliant on the Lord and more trusting in circumstances? Every day I must fight to rest only in the Lord.

            Love.  Is my ambition to please myself, obtain my goals, meet my objectives? Or is it to be a help and blessing to others? When have I ever sought to be truly selfless? When have God’s will and God’s honor been my sole objectives? When have I put the needs of my brethren before my own desires, or even needs, and done so with genuine thankfulness for the opportunity to put others first?

            Perseverance. “Deliver me from this trial.” Is that my first and only earnest prayer? Or have I prayed for and sought “steadfastness, constancy” and “endurance”? Yes, we need perseverance in order to survive this life, not to mention in order to be victorious. But have I pursued perseverance or merely hoped that I might somehow endure my present difficulty and get it over with as quickly as possible? To seek perseverance is not to request trials but to desire the godly character that God would have us manifest in those trials.

            Gentleness. Life’s inevitable challenges make some people successively more angry, bitter, and cynical. They should have the opposite effect on me, making me more malleable, bent more to Christlikeness, that is mild and meek. Perseverance guarantees that I will be strong in the Lord, tough and able to withstand what life throws at me. Gentleness says that such strength of faith will not make me hard, impatient, or unkind toward others. Do I think more highly of myself than I ought to think (Rom. 12:3)? Do I esteem others better than myself (Phil. 2:3)?

            How convicting that reflection is. I am to “seek earnestly after” these virtues, to “earnestly endeavor to acquire” them. How I have failed. “O to grace how great a debtor/Daily I’m constrained to be.”

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