I have recently been reflecting on 2 Timothy 2:22, which says “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (ESV). In the context of this verse Paul is discussing the importance of holiness and faithfulness.
I have been especially thinking about the word flee. What does it mean to flee something? The best definition I can think of is “run like mad.” I thought about what it would be like to be chased by a mountain lion. In such a scenario, I would certainly run like mad (probably not successfully, but that is beside the point). I imagine if anyone else was chased by a mountain lion, they would also flee. It would be rather unwise to stand still, or even run toward it. Our sense of self-preservation would kick in, and we would certainly be motivated to run for our (physical) life.
In 2 Timothy 2:22 Paul seems to be telling us to run like mad for our (spiritual) life. He does not tell us to stand still as sin approaches, or to run toward it. We are called to run like mad when sin comes after us! And fortunately, through the grace of God we can be more successful than we would be in trying to outrun a mountain lion. When sin approaches, does your sense of spiritual self-preservation (so to speak) kick in and motivate you to run for your spiritual life?
I would encourage us to examine our lives and see what sinful passions are tugging at us. Are you especially susceptible to anger? Pride? Lust? Jealousy? Love of money? Desire for power? Rebellion? Whatever it is in your life, you are called to flee from those desires. However, I also find it interesting that Paul points us to that which we are run toward. We are called to flee sin, and in that fleeing we have a destination. Our goal should be to run toward righteousness, faith, love, and peace. With God’s help, you can develop the habit of running like mad in the face of sin, and the energy that you would have spent on that sin can be used for your pursuit of righteousness, faith, love, and peace.