|Volume 18 Number 7 July 2016||
In 1 Timothy 6:3-10, Paul warned Timothy of the ungodly actions of false teachers. There were some who were teaching false doctrine and refusing to accept sound doctrine (6:3). They proved that they were proud and knew nothing (6:4). Destitute of the truth, they believed that “godliness was gain” and their love for money was evident (6:3, 10). Exposure to false doctrine and sinful conduct will negatively influence an otherwise godly individual (1 Corinthians 5:6; 15:33). For this reason, Paul instructed Timothy to respond in a positive and productive way.
Paul established a stark contrast between Timothy and false teachers with these words, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things” (11a). Though false teachers were involved in all types of sin, Paul instructed Timothy to keep on “fleeing” from sin. The word translated “flee” means “to shun, avoid, run, escape.” Too often Christians dabble in sin and dismiss their conduct as insignificant and of no consequence. Paul, inspired by God, commanded, “Shun sin! Have no part in it!” Like Joseph, Christians should not allow themselves to be seduced by the pleasures of sin; rather, they should flee from them (Genesis 39:7-12; 2 Timothy 2:22).
However, Timothy was not to constantly be in flight without any direction. Paul instructed Timothy, “and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness” (11b). Timothy was to “flee,” but he was also to “follow.” The word translated “follow” means “to pursue, hunt.” Timothy was to pursue “righteousness” which means to do that which is right according to God’s standard. In order to know God’s standard of righteousness, Christians must turn to the Bible (Romans 1:16-17). Unfortunately, some establish their own standard of righteousness and ascribe it to God (Romans 6:3). He was also to pursue “godliness.” False teachers in Ephesus believed “gain” was godliness, but in reality “godliness” is “devoutness” prompted by the awesome attributes of God.
In addition, Paul instructed Timothy to follow after “faith” and “love.” Faith and love are often connected in the Bible (1 Thessalonians 1:3). Faith is belief based on evidence that encourages Christians to trust in God regardless of the circumstances (Colossians 1:4). It must be pursued; it is not passively acquired. Faith should compel Christians to demonstrate their love for God by living in accordance with His will and to the benefit of mankind (Matthew 22:37; John 14:15). Still, Timothy would need “patience” and “meekness” to overcome the influence of ungodliness. The word “patience” does not indicate “passivism” but endurance to press onward. Endurance is that which causes the Christian to strive toward the finish line to receive the victor’s crown (Philippians 3:12-14). Meekness is the quality that ensures you will not be “burnt out” after the first lap. It is a controlled strength that allows the Word of God to positively influence us (James 1:21) and allows us to positively influence others (2 Timothy 2:25).
Still, the man of God must do more than “flee” and “follow.” He must also be willing to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). The word translated “fight” looks very similar to the English word “agonize.” Paul commanded Timothy to keep on agonizing over “the faith” (i.e., true Christianity). The battle against false doctrine and sin must be fought with the preaching of sound, healthy doctrine (Jude 3; 1 Timothy 6:3). There are few things worth fighting for in this life, but the fight of “the faith” is not only “worth it,” it is good! Men and women of God, “Flee, follow and fight!”
Peter Ray Cole
In relationships, individuals bring particular skill sets or talents. This dynamic naturally leads to individuals taking on specific roles within the relationship. Healthy relationships have healthy roles. For example, a godly wife (Ephesians 5:22; 1 Peter 3:1-6) and mother (Proverbs 31) demonstrates healthy roles in her relationships. The God-fearing woman is able to build genuine self-worth, identity, security and achievement. In this healthy relationship, “her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” (Proverbs 31:28), which leads to a mutually beneficial and balanced relationship.
Relationships, however, can become unbalanced when individuals develop unhealthy ways to nurture their feelings of self-worth and identity based on the problems of another person in the relationship. This creates a codependent/dependent relationship, and these relationships are always unhealthy. This often occurs when one person in the relationship (the dependent) continually demands extra attention and allows someone else (the codependent) to constantly sacrifice his or her own needs to meet the other’s desires. The dependent displays negative traits, such as narcissism, addiction, manipulation or abusiveness. Consequently, the codependent always attempts to appease or enable the dependent. This overwhelming attempt to meet the dependent’s unreasonable demands causes the codependent to lose his or her individual identity and healthy value, as well as to become identified merely by one’s relationship with the dependent. The codependent places a greater value on meeting the demands of the dependent for so long that the codependent takes on the role of martyr, a role by which he or she now identifies his or her self-worth.
Samson exhibited codependency in his relationship with Delilah in Judges 14-16, which ultimately led to his demise. Even though Delilah had deceitful ulterior motives, Samson continued to sacrifice his godly standards because he valued the relationship with Delilah more than his obedience to God (Judges 14:1-3). Just like Samson, codependent people become so fixated on perceived values in the relationship that they cannot recognize the destruction, even though it is evident to casual observers.
Many times when the dependent attempts to confront and overcome his own vices (1 Corinthians 10:13; James 1:13-14), the codependent will actually sabotage the efforts. This unhealthy response is from the fear of losing one’s identity and self-worth, as well as the value received from enabling the dependent. The unspoken question is often, “If you get healthy, what will I do?”
Codependent/dependent relationships can exist between husband and wife, parents and a child or in any close relationship. The more enmeshed the relationship, the more difficult the problem is to recognize and fix. However, these relationships can be restored to a healthy balance.
The transition from a codependent relationship to a healthy relationship begins with confronting the issue, and this transition is always painful (Proverbs 20:30). Recognizing and admitting our failures hurts (2 Corinthians 7:10), and it is often difficult to hear that our efforts, as sincere as they may be, have been enabling the sinful behavior of the dependent (Galatians 4:16). Christians should be thankful for those admonishing brothers and sisters in Christ who help us live godlier lives. The next step is to establish boundaries within the relationship. These guarded parameters will help everyone to understand where the line is between healthy and unhealthy behaviors. Finally, codependents need to develop healthy alternatives to find and establish their identities and self-worth, so they will have strength to stand against negative and sinful behavior and end the cycle of codependency.