Running from things—Is that a sign of weakness or is it a sign of wisdom? Americans have trouble with the idea of running from things. A good example of this mentality is realized in the popular USA Independence Day T-Shirt that displays a picture of the American flag and reads, “These colors don’t run.” As an American, it is ingrained in me to not run from things, but what do I do as a “man of God”? (Side note—the phrase, “man of God” is genderless in the original language so....ladies, you are not off the hook, this scripture applies to you too.)
In verse 11 Paul exhorts Timothy to run from “evil things”. In fact, he is telling Timothy to run from the many things that he mentioned earlier in the letter. As we consider Paul’s words to Timothy, it is important that we understand the context of his letter and that we know specifically the “evil things” from which Timothy is to “run”.
The letter of 1 Timothy was written by the Apostle Paul to his friend Timothy, the leader at the church in Ephesus. The church was a young church and in Paul’s absence had been infiltrated by false teachers. Timothy was sent to lead the church through this challenging situation. Paul wrote the letter to encourage Timothy and to advise him on how to confront the difficult issues in the church.
Specifically, in chapter 6, Paul instructs Timothy on how to deal with those in the church that are focused solely upon making money and who are perverting the message of the gospel. The false teachers have come into the church preaching a message of compromise—proclaiming a cheap grace of “ease and happiness” in contrast to Paul’s preaching of commitment to Christ and love of others. Their debates, arguing and quibbling over Paul’s words were gaining them attention and stirring up dissention within the church and all the while they were garnering support—specifically, financial support (which is by design). The religion of the false teachers was focused upon the gaining of wealth and living a life of ease, luxury and extravagance.
In light of all this Paul says to Timothy—run. In other words Paul says, “Don’t get sucked into the black hole of arguing and debating and don’t for a second be deceived by the myth of popularity and the allure of money.” Specifically, Paul says, “. . . you Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things.” It is important to note that prior to his exhortation to “run,” Paul, in a very few words, gives the reason that Timothy should run. He should run because he is “a man of God.”
“A man [person] of God” is an important descriptor used here by Paul. Timothy was a follower of Jesus Christ. His life was set aside for noble purposes—to be used as an instrument for God. His life was not his own it was bought at the high price of the precious blood of Jesus upon the cross. Timothy was “a man of God” but he was also a human being and humans are susceptible to temptation.
“. . . run from all these evil things.” Evil things lead to evil thoughts which lead to temptation. You and I know exactly what Paul was talking about. Timothy was very possibly wrestling with the temptations and trappings that emanate from power and money. In light of the enticing evil that Timothy was up against, Paul doesn’t mince any words. He instructs Timothy to “run.”
There is evil that we are to fight and there is evil that we are to run from. Timothy was facing the kind that we are to run from. The people of God are to run from the evil things that lead to temptation and sin.
Run from this evil like you would run from:
- an approaching tsunami
- a collapsing building
- a crazed shooter in a shopping mall
To stand still in the face of these types of situations would mean certain death.
Do you have a temptation that is difficult to resist? Are you feeling the weight of evil things and wicked thoughts as they press in on you? Take Paul’s advice and run. The smart thing to do is to remove yourself from the temptation and run from anything that might produce sin in your life.
Running from evil is not cowardly, it is courageous. Running from temptation that could lead to sin is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of wisdom. Just like Timothy, you are a child of God, bought with a price and filled with the Holy Spirit to be used of God for His glory. The evil of sin and its consequences will only serve to trip you up and stand in the way of your service unto God.
Heed Paul’s instructions—when faced with temptation, remember who you are and whose you are and……Run.