God desires for you and me to have a pure heart. “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).
In the above verse, the Apostle Paul gives us five characteristics of a pure heart. He tells us in this passage, as he does elsewhere, what to “watch out for” (or avoid), as well as what to “pursue” (or cling to). As Christians, this is a balance each of us must have in our lives. To simply run away from something leads to isolation. In this life we must replace our evil (unregenerate) habits with habits which will lead to godliness. The Scriptures are full of this principle of “replacement!”
Flee the “evil desires of youth” These desires would include sexual sin, pride, craving for wealth or power, prestige, jealousy, envy, self-assertiveness, and selfish ambition. We are to run away like a fugitive (phuego) and not “settle” or be content to be recaptured by those desires. To flee means to be continually vigilant in our denial of these desires. We must “keep up our antenna” for these vices and avoid them at all costs!
Pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace We are to vigorously run towards these positive characteristics.
- Righteousness is pursued by reading, studying, and living out the Word of God, which is the source of righteousness (Ps. 119:9-11).
- Faith in this context is more a reference to faithfulness. We are, by faith, to remain loyal and faithful to God as a quality of life.
- Love is the highest loyalty and example of godliness we are capable of. Agape love is a love of conscious determination, not of impulse. It is pursued so as to be practiced in our lives, regardless of the worthiness of the one being loved.
- Peace is the quality of lifestyle that brings about serenity and harmony in relationships. (Rom. 12:18).
Amazingly enough, this admonition is given to Timothy (and secondarily to us), and it is the expected conduct of “those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” God, give us a greater desire for a pure heart!
Do the math. A heart that is truly pure will have all of these five characteristics. Three out of five is a good goal for tic-tac-toe, but we have a goal of a truly pure heart and therefore 5 out of 5 is God-empowered action!