A Violent Pursuit
“Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
- 2 Timothy 2:22 NASB
A couple of weeks ago I was in the middle of my personal Bible study time when I felt led to study out Proverbs 15:9, “The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but He loves one who pursues righteousness.” This verse didn't seem to fit in with the theme of my study but no matter how hard I tried to skip over it to move on to something that fit my agenda better, God would not allow me to pass it by. So I (figuratively) cracked open the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance to look at the word pursuit and this is what I found:
H7291 râdaph, raw-daf'; a primitive root; to run after (usually with hostile intent):—chase, put to flight, follow (after, on), hunt, (be under) persecute(-ion, -or), pursue(-r).
Now that got my attention and spurred me on into a fury of study until I had to reluctantly leave for work, where I must admit my performance may have suffered slightly because the back of my mind was still reeling with the implications. Our pursuit of righteousness isn't some leisurely stroll in the countryside to go and visit righteousness for a quiet spot of tea. No! It's a violent pursuit! It's an “I'm not taking 'no' for an answer” endeavor. Opposition and bloody knuckles don't stop the violent. Why should our pursuit of righteousness be any different?
Now maybe you're thinking, “But that's Old Testament Amanda, surely we are more civilized and dignified in our modern age.” Think again, lovely reader.
“Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.”
2 Timothy 2:22 NLT
According to HELPS Word-studies, the word pursue here (or diόkό) means to aggressively chase, like a hunter pursuing a catch (prize)...pursue with all haste (“chasing” after), earnestly desiring to overtake (apprehend).
To me, this doesn't sound like a quick exercise in righteousness—an instant gratification. It implies diligence and endurance. This type of pursuit is a concerted effort; it is tiring, time-consuming, and lengthy.
Actually, I believe that the pursuit of righteousness is never-ending, which is not to be confused with purposeless. When one hungers and thirsts for righteousness they will be filled. (Mat 5:6) This isn't a question of if but of how much?
Are you pursuing righteousness just for a snack or a taste? Is your pursuit just enough for your guilty conscience to be alleviated and then you fill-up the rest of the way on junk food and empty calories, or more precisely the things of this world? Is it just enough to take the edge off or are you going all the way? If you want a feast, pursue the feast! There is no “this much and no more” when it comes to righteousness, what you have is what you have pursued!
This puts me in mind of Matthew 11:12, “The Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” It's time to get violent in our pursuit of righteousness! The violent don't take “no” for an answer; they don't let pain or fatigue or fear stop them. They see what they want and they take it, no questions asked, no permission needed. While in most parts of life this is a terrible way to live, in our pursuit of righteousness, in our pursuit of the Kingdom, God loves our zeal!
It's time to get loud and violent against anything standing in the way of righteousness, of purity, and of the will of God. It's time to get violent and be diligent in our pursuit, not taking “no” for an answer and not bowing to the will of our flesh.
Psalm 118:27 says, “Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords to the altar.” Why would you have to bind the sacrifice if it wasn't trying to fight back? To be honest, I'm not a fan of envisioning what the Old Testament system of sacrifice looked like; it was a bloody, messy affair. The animals were not going to die willingly. (Thank God my Jesus did, but that's for another day.) If the sacrifices needed to be bound to the altar to hold them in place, why would our lives laid down look any different? Your flesh does not want to die, bind it to the altar anyway!
We are called to run this race with endurance, trusting in our great and awesome God to renew our strength when we tire. We are called to go all in, no matter the cost, no matter the perception, no matter the outcome, no matter what! We need more scrap in the right places!
So beloved, let's pursue what is available with everything that we have and quit quitting when the going gets tough or holding back when the cost is too pricey. It's time to get down and gritty in our pursuit of righteousness and come hell or high-water let nothing deter us from the path!
Written by Amanda Strauser