What a great command from Paul to Timothy in his second letter. He says, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” We are to run from our youthful passions. Instead we are to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. But we aren’t supposed to do it alone. We are to pursue it “along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
This verse tells us that our journey includes other believers. It also tells us that we need to have companions who have a pure heart. We need to surround ourselves with other believers who have a pure heart. In doing so, it helps us to be supported and built up in Christ. It allows for us to walk faithfully with Jesus, and when we fall, our companions will help pick us up.
If you don’t have many Christian friends, you have a problem. You need a good, rock solid community. This is typically a community you find at your local church. Get engaged at church. Join a small group. Build strong relationships. Find some pure heart companions, people who always point you to Jesus Christ.
“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” – 2 Timothy 2:22 [NLT]
People are important. Every single person matters. Zechariah 7:9-10 tells us, “Treat one another justly. Love your neighbors. Be compassionate with each other. Don’t take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors, and the poor. Don’t plot and scheme against one another—that’s evil” (MSG). These are simple commands to remember and act upon; however, our society screams, “Me, me, me.”
If you are not so interested in people, then you have forgotten the two commandments of Jesus: Love God, love others. It’s plain and clear. There’s no way to misinterpret. It is not complex or mysterious. Zechariah states, “You’re interested in religion, I’m interested in people.” Sometimes we get that mixed up.
Religion is very different than relationship. God wants a relationship with us and He wants us to be in relationships with others too. God is a communal. It is all about community. It is all about people. If people—all people—are not your interests, I pray today you may start changing your interests. There are a whole lot of people out there—and each one needs Love.
“God-of-the-Angel-Armies gave me this Message for them, for all the people and for the priests: ‘When you held days of fasting every fifth and seventh month all these seventy years, were you doing it for me? And when you held feasts, was that for me? Hardly. You’re interested in religion, I’m interested in people.’” Zechariah 7:4-6 [MSG]
It is very difficult to deeply immerse yourself in the world and expect to live a godly life. It is important to spend time in good company because these people will help you to “keep your feet on the tried-and-true paths.” Hang around those with integrity, those who are honest, those who will help build you up and equip you, those who know and love God and who are devoted to studying God’s Word and who regularly worship the Lord.
When you spend a lot of time in bad company, it wears off on you to the point no one can tell the difference between you and the worldly. Imagine a cup of water. The cup of water represents the godly life. The water is clear. However, if you take a tea bag (bad company) and dip it in the water, slowly the water changes color and taste. Little by little, you can add more tea bags or simply allow the tea to soak through the bag in time. The water changes. It’s no longer water. It’s tea. It is the same way with bad company.
We are to interact with sinners, to spend time with sinners. Each of us is in fact a sinner. Plus, if we were to isolate ourselves after being saved, then how would the Gospel be shared? Still, we all need a great community of godly friends to walk with us through life. I thank God for my mentors, my friends, my good company. They have helped to strengthen me, to pray for me, to point me in the right direction, to share Scripture, to comfort, to encourage. Join the company of good men and women.
“So—join the company of good men and women,
keep your feet on the tried-and-true paths.
It’s the men who walk straight who will settle this land,
the women with integrity who will last here.
The corrupt will lose their lives;
the dishonest will be gone for good.”
-Proverbs 2:20-22 [MSG]
There’s a phrase that I often hear from people when I ask them how they are doing. I guess I will say I am okay. It does no good complaining. No one cares anyway. Now for my complaint…
It really upsets me to hear people say things like this because I know that no matter what, someone cares. Always. And yes, complaining too much is a bad thing. The Israelites spent a lot of time grumbling in the Wilderness. But there are moments when we are upset and it is okay to verbalize our feelings.
I am currently reading the Book of Psalms. As I page through, again and again I read of the Psalmist crying out to God, pouring out his emotions. There is no holding back. There is nothing but pure, honest truth. And yes, there is some complaining. Today I want to remind you that God cares about you and EVERYTHING you are going through. And there are people in this world who care as well. Don’t go through your days not opening up and connecting. If you keep everything to yourself, then you are not really having a relationship at all.
“The cuts in my flesh stink and grow maggots
because I’ve lived so badly.
And now I’m flat on my face
feeling sorry for myself morning to night.
All my insides are on fire,
my body is a wreck.
I’m on my last legs; I’ve had it—
my life is a vomit of groans.”
-Psalm 38:5-8 [MSG]
A few days ago, I made a horrible mistake with my laundry. It was laundry day and my last load of laundry was the bath towels. When I put the towels into the dryer, I continued onward. We had dinner. We took the dog for a walk. I did the dishes. There was a moment when I considered checking on the towels, but I figured that it wasn’t a high priority. I’ve left the towels sit before and everything was fine.
Two days went by and I remembered that I had bath towels in the dryer. I opened the dryer and it hit me—I never turned the dryer on after I shut the door. The smell was horrible. The nice, clean towels that simply needed dried now needed to be rewashed. Everything that was done before now needed done again.
We are like those bath towels. After we accept Jesus, we are washed clean; however, we cannot just sit there after we are washed. We still have an issue with sin and a need for repentance. We still need to continue on our walk with Christ. If we don’t read and actively study the Bible—if we don’t participate in prayer daily—if we don’t continue to repent for our sins—if we don’t follow God’s will for our lives—if we don’t belong to a church community and serve—we are then wet towels sitting in the dryer. Today, continue on your walk with Christ—read, study, pray, repent, follow, belong, serve. Life isn’t lived standing still.
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:6-7 [NIV]