Christianity 201

September 29, 2019

Paul’s Charges to Timothy

I love lists.

I’m just as distracted as everyone else and my attention span is often very… …where was I?

We live in a bullet-point world, where information dissemination and absorption often happens with phrases or even single words, not complete sentences.

Most of us are familiar with the Apostle Paul’s 9 Fruit of the Spirit (capitalized because those short verses represent a distinct body of Biblical literature) but maybe not a similar list in I Timothy 6:11 (bullet point formatting added):

11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue

  • righteousness,
  • godliness,
  • faith,
  • love,
  • endurance and
  • gentleness.

This is a long-term pursuit. At the Bible commentary blog, Precept Austin, we read these words:

I love Pastor Steven Cole’s introductory remarks in his sermon on Going the Distance (1Timothy 6:11-12) – As an aside, I strongly encourage you to become familiar with Steven Cole’s material which almost reads like a verse by verse commentary! see Sermons by Book)…

Question: What do diets, exercise programs, marriage, and the Christian life have in common?

Answer: It’s fairly easy and even fun to begin, but it’s not so easy to hang in over the long haul.

Eugene Peterson, in his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society, writes,

One aspect of world that I have been able to identify as harmful to Christians is the assumption that anything worthwhile can be acquired at once. We assume that if something can be done at all, it can be done quickly and efficiently. Our attention spans have been conditioned by thirty-second commercials. Our sense of reality has been flattened by thirty-page abridgments.

It is not difficult in such a world to get a person interested in the message of the Gospel; it is terrifically difficult to sustain the interest. Millions of people in our culture make decisions for Christ, but there is a dreadful attrition rate. Many claim to be born again, but the evidence for mature Christian disciple-ship is slim. In our kind of culture anything, even news about God, can be sold if it is packaged freshly; but when it loses its novelty, it goes on the garbage heap. There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.

(Peterson adds [not quoted by Cole] “Religion in our time has been captured by the tourist mindset. Religion is understood as a visit to an attractive site to be made when we have adequate leisure. For some it is a weekly jaunt to church; for others, occasional visits to special services. Some, with a bent for religious entertainment and sacred diversion, plan their lives around special events like retreats, rallies and conferences. We go to see a new personality, to hear a new truth, to get a new experience and so somehow expand our otherwise humdrum lives. The religious life is defined as the latest and the newest: Zen, faith healing, human potential, parapsychology, successful living, choreography in the chancel, Armageddon. We’ll try anything—until something else comes along.”)

The Christian life is not a hundred-yard dash; it’s a marathon, a “long obedience in the same direction.

Starting well is easy;
finishing well is another matter.

Some great thoughts.

Before we’re done, though, Paul also gives another list like this to Timothy in II Timothy 3 (bullet point formatting added)

10 You, however, know all about

  • my teaching,
  • my way of life
  • my purpose,
  • faith,
  • patience,
  • love,
  • endurance,
  • 11a persecutions,
  • sufferings

I found it interesting how as this list (which begins with an encouragement to follow Paul’s example as he follows Christ) continues, it rolls into persecution and sufferings. In the following verse he will go on to say that, “12everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

The Christian life will be marked by these very Fruit-of-the-Spirit-like attributes, but when we cast our mind to that list from Galatians, it’s important to remember that the fruit of the Christian life may also include hardship and persecution.


If you like lists, here’s one we covered back in 2012 from chapter one of Paul’s epistle to the Colossians as we considered what it means to live a Christianity 201 type of life:

9For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. Col 1 9-12 NIV

Nine growth areas:

  • Grow in knowledge of God’s will
  • Grow in spiritual wisdom and understanding
  • Live a worthy life
  • Please God in every way
  • Bear fruit
  • Grow in knowledge of God
  • Be strengthened with power
  • Reflect great endurance and patience and joy
  • Be thankful

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: