Those who call on the Lord from a pure heart
2 Timothy 2 today contains a powerful and pointed exhortation to Paul – it is one we should take to heart as equally a message for today. It is the last letter Paul wrote; he is now an old man. He tells Timothy to “pursue righteousness”. What is this – in practice?
Righteousness is not a natural attribute – it is a quality that needs to be ‘pursued’. Let us see it as a quality of character we need to capture and imprison in our hearts. That’s a challenging concept – we must meditate on it.
As well as “righteousness” Timothy is told to
“Pursue … faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (verse 22).
Among the believers in the first century there was in circulation what are called the ‘sayings of the faithful’. There was no opportunity for the great majority to learn to read and write so certain sayings were memorized. Some persons with exceptional abilities of memory are said to have memorized all the Psalms. Mission workers have been surprised when meeting some so called ‘illiterate’ people in the villages in the earlier years in India to find how fully they had trained their memory. To have lots of God’s word committed to memory would be a great aid to be among those
“who call on the Lord from a pure heart”.
Paul includes one of the ‘sayings’ that was in circulation among the believers in this chapter. He writes,
“I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (verse 10)
and then quotes this saying: the first part being,
“If we have died with him, we will also live with him”.
We died with him when we were baptised. Going down under the water and then coming out again is a symbol of his death and resurrection – we are acknowledging that his death was for us. The saying then stresses the need to “endure” – and developing and maintaining “a pure heart” surely reflects the words of Jesus,
“the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22).