But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:11-12
I’ve always been of the kind who likes lists. Here Paul gives Timothy six key pursuits: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. As a bonus, here are another five in 1 Timothy 4:12: “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”
It goes without saying that if you are fleeing from the things that may derail your ministry, in the direction of things that will bolster it, you will not go wrong. It seems that the key to becoming a man of God always involves running (albeit of the endurance kind); running away from the unprofitable and pursuing the profitable. Since Paul was a sports buff (I am wildly speculating from the athletic imagery in his letters), running was a fascination, not only as a pastime, but as a primary object lesson for every Christian pursuit (no pun intended).
As an exercise, I like to remove one of the aims in a particular list, one of the six in this case, and see what kind of person that might yield. Paul does this in 1 Corinthians 13, when he removes “love” from the equation. Something about a “noisy gong or a clanging cymbal?” We can’t be a man of God without a well-rounded persona shaped in all respects like Christ. Certainly with love.
It’s obvious from verse 12, apparently of the six attributes, a life of faith and faithfulness is the most important of the six—it must be fought for, and it’s agonizing. In fact, Paul’s really saying “agonize over the good agony,” which is faith and faithfulness. Nothing ever comes easy in the Christian faith, yet who is helping us?
I encourage the would-be men of God out there to spring out of the gates now in pursuit of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
Now this is not a priortity list per se, but if you have to put one pursuit at the top, make it faith, and then follow it with perseverance.
Here the agony is not defeat!