1 Timothy 6:11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
In context, the “all of this” here is talking about the things mentioned from verse 3 through verse 10. The major thrust there is the love of money, but it could be broadened to include all the attitudes and values of this world, as opposed to those of the kingdom of God. When we look at the things listed in this verse that we are supposed to seek earnestly, we discover that many of them are gained through trials! Paul famously wrote to the Romans that “we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4) That’s not at all to say that we are to seek suffering, but rather that when we are suffering, we are to seek the benefits that God can give us through it. I am reminded of walking through a “red light district” at night, with all the artificial lighting, and in the middle of the day, with clear sunlight. At night, all the bars and such can seem glamorous, inviting, what have you, but in the clear light of day they show how tawdry and ultimately worthless they are. Sometimes we need suffering to open our eyes to true values. Peter said right out, “He who has suffered in his body is done with sin.” (1 Peter 4:1) I’ll say again that we are not to seek suffering; masochism has no place in God’s plan. However, we are to rejoice in what God can and will provide to us through our sufferings, if we will submit them to Him.
This is in some ways an awkward thing for me to write at this point, because I’m not the one in physical pain, my wife is. If I preach this from a high horse, it will not be received as love! I have already received push-back from quite a few people simply from telling them that if they lift their eyes off of themselves and their problems and fix them on Jesus, they will suffer far less because they will see things in proper perspective. People react to that with “You think my problems are insignificant,” and they get angry and/or hurt. Some have even left the church over it. The thing is, every possible human problem is relatively insignificant when viewed from the eternal perspective. It was by focusing on the eternal perspective that Jesus was able to get through the suffering He endured, from His arrest on through His crucifixion. (Hebrews 12:2) I am not to stop speaking the truth, but I must always do so in gentleness, respect, and love, so that the Holy Spirit may take my words as His, and bring healing, strength, comfort and joy.
Father, this is something I obviously don’t have the wisdom to do right. I’ve made a mess of it several times. I ask You to continue to grow and shape me so that Your truth through me may set people free from all the lies of the devil, for their great blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!