Friday June 17th
2 Timothy 2:22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
Many see following Christ as a joyless surrender of everything pleasurable in life. Following God will mean giving up my freedom to pursue my own passions. If you find yourself in this position, I don’t know that I have much here for you. I am writing from a perspective that has known all to well the destruction that inevitably follows from sowing the seeds of my own flesh nature. I can easily recall the misery I created, while pursuing something that I thought would bring me pleasure.
This is the seductive lie of pursuing our passionate desires. We think we can have some pleasure now but we are blind to the destruction and slavery that follows. We fool ourselves, insisting that we can indulge in just a little bad behavior without causing any harm. Just one more time …I’ll change tomorrow…After this I’ll never do it again…
Paul however, commands that we flee now. We are to do whatever it takes to leave behind our flesh defects, not because God wants to kill our fun, but because He wants us to seek real, lasting joy. He knows what we know, that our indulgence in our flesh brings fleeting pleasure but later wreaks destruction. Our insistence on eating what we want, looking at what we want, fantasizing about what we want, delivers instant gratification that quickly evaporates, leaving not lasting joy but lasting pain.
God does not want to kill our joy and pleasure. He wants us to have lasting, authentic pleasure. Through Paul, he teaches us how to have this real joy. He tells us we are to put the hard work in up front and then reap the benefit of authentic, lasting joy later. How do we do this? We choose now, not to pursue self. We instead choose everyday to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. This is not natural for us. It is our nature to feed our impulse to be selfish, greedy, gluttonous, or anxious. It takes daily effort to choose to pursue God. That is what we are doing here. We are choosing to not sow the seeds of the flesh. We are daily choosing to sow the seeds of the Spirit. Joy and pleasure await us. We only need to make the choice to pursue it in God, not in our flesh.