This is just a snip of tomorrow’s gospel reading at my church, for which I’m the lay reader. I’ve fallen deep into chapter 6, verses 6 – 19. There is so much here.
But right now let’s look at just part of two of these jammed verses: “But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight fo the faith…”
The word right after “Gentleness” is “Fight.”
Isn’t that odd? And since this whole passage is crafted so carefully and with so much poetry (at least to me), my gut thinks this is a deliberate contrast.
“Those people, those people of the faith, they won’t fight. They will just turn the other cheek.”
“Those people, so determined to live as if money doesn’t matter, they won’t fight — you can just take from them.”
Fighting, pursuing, hoarding — the constant treadmill of work and worry — is what the love of riches will bring. Fighting free of that would be a fight well worth the trouble.
So Paul is writing — be fierce in gentleness. Fight for your pursuit of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness, as much as those who pursue riches would fight to obtain that. How in the world do you fight for gentleness? How do you fight for internal qualities like righteousness and godliness?
Perhaps “love” and “endurance” are in the list for a reason?
Perhaps also that is why immediately Paul goes into an amazing testimony and impassioned praise of Christ Jesus. If we stay true to this amazing love from God, if we realized how amazing it is, perhaps that is the way that gentleness can fight.
These words are from bible teacher Beth Moore: “The greatest wonder is not something God performs for you. It’s that God, who dwells in unapproachable light, whose voice is like thunder, can be known by you. Tenderly, Unendingly. Because of Jesus. This is the miracle.”
We may have different words and our roads may be different, but those of us who want life to be more than “how much can I get myself” are free to see and act and live in different ways, and in a way that can knit us together. May righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness bring us all to life that really is life.
eta: And then real life happened — this wasn’t the lectionary reading chosen to be read after all! It was a perfect “easy” parable about prayer and the Jesus prayer specifically. However, I really enjoyed reading this and starting to learn this. I think God had a “word” for me via this mistake (which was all mine).
Life for a Biblical Storyteller — you just never know what is going to happen.