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The art of living

But you, Timothy, belong to God; so run from all these evil things, and follow what is right and good. Pursue a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for what we believe. Hold tightly to the eternal life that God has given you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses. — 1 Timothy 6:11-12

Dr. Samuel Johnson, a renowned 18th century writer and witty conversationalist, spent more than eight years working on a dictionary of the English language that, when completed, included definitions and examples of 40,000 words. This son of a bookseller had a lifelong love affair with books and words, and chief among his books were the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.

At the end of his life, Johnson stated that the whole point of books is to teach the art of living. So perhaps it would be more accurate to say he had a lifelong love affair with learning that art.

Johnson insisted, “What is new is opposed, because most are unwilling to be taught; and what is known is rejected, because it is not sufficiently considered that men more frequently require to be reminded than informed.” While the search for new knowledge is commendable and important, the application of old knowledge is often more fruitful.

No doubt Johnson would have approved of Paul’s reminders to Timothy, which were designed to assist the young man in the art of living.

As a matter of primary importance, Timothy needed to be reminded, “You belong to God.” To understand this is to grasp four points.

First, if you belong to God you can’t belong to yourself—you have handed over the control of your life to your Creator and Redeemer. Second, the concerns of your life are more God’s concerns than yours. Third, belonging to God inevitably and obviously leads to the need to “run from… evil things, and follow what is right and good.” Fourth, this need to run from evil in turn requires a disciplined approach to “a godly life” made up of “faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11).

Then Timothy needed to be reminded that living as a believer in an unbelieving environment would be a struggle, particularly as he went about fulfilling his calling to spread the good news of the gospel. Paul called the struggle a “fight”—but it was a “good fight” (6:12) in which Timothy was expected to participate.

Thereafter, Timothy was reminded that he must never loosen his hold on “the eternal life that God has given you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses” (6:12). Having previously professed faith in Christ and having solemnly testified about salvation that would lead to life eternal, Timothy must never forget that he had received new life, nor that he had taken a moral and spiritual stand for Christ.

No doubt there were many things for Timothy to learn that were new, but Paul decided that he needed to be reminded of the old things more!

The apostle knew that constant reminders about fundamental lessons contribute greatly to the art of living.

For further study: 1 Timothy 6:11-21

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.