"Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. Follow anything that makes you want to do right. Pursue faith and love and peace, and enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts."
- 2 Timothy 2:22 NLT
A while back, I heard from a young Christian man who said he had begun ministering to a young woman who desperately needed the Lord. He wanted my advice because this woman confessed to him that she was attracted to him, and he was becoming attracted to her in return. He told me that he was engaged to a wonderful Christian young lady, and that he didn't want to risk losing her, but that he was having trouble resisting this other woman. I shared with him the verses above, and I told him to flee from this tempting situation without delay. I assured him that the Lord was willing and able to send someone else to minister to this woman, and that He would do exactly that if this young man asked Him to. The next time he wrote me, he confessed that his own pastor had given him the same advice, and that he had put a healthy distance between himself and the "other" woman.
This young man's experience reminded me of some powerful words I heard a godly man speak years ago. He said, "God is more interested in saving YOU, than He is in you saving the world." This man was a dedicated evangelist, so his words really impressed me. He had seen too many Christians fall into sin as they attempted to minister to the unsaved, as well as to carnal believers.
In the verses above, the apostle Paul warns us to, "RUN from anything that stimulates youthful lust." The Message Bible says, "Run away from infantile indulgence." (2 Timothy 2:22 MSG) In other words, we are commanded to turn our backs on anything that would tempt us to give in to fleshly impulses, even if it's someone we're ministering to in the Lord's name. The devil may tell us things like, "If you don't lead this woman to Christ, no one will. What if you're the only person who can save her? She'll end up in hell because of you, and her blood will be on your head!" This is simply not true. In cases like these, we can go to God and confess that we are struggling with temptation, and we can ask Him to send someone else to minister to these folks--someone who will NOT be tempted by these people.
In this same passage, Paul writes: "If you keep yourself pure, you will be a utensil God can use for His purpose. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work." (2 Timothy 2:21 NLT) The young man who wrote me wanted very much to be used by God for His glory, as do the rest of us who love Him. There's a price to be paid for this privilege. We have to continually strive to maintain clean hearts and minds, and to keep our actions and motives pure. As we do, we will enjoy greater rewards and promotions from the Lord.
Proverbs 6:27 (NLT) says, "Can a man scoop fire into his lap and not be burned?" If you are in a situation like this young man's today, let me warn you that you are playing with fire, and you WILL get burned. May this promise from the Lord inspire and challenge you today--"If you stay away from sin...Christ Himself can use you for His highest purposes"! (2 Timothy 2:21 TLB)
Prayer: Lord, teach me how to run from lust and temptation. Help me never to play with sin, but to take it as seriously as You do. Remind me often that spending time in Your presence and Your Word will help to renew my mind and cleanse my heart. Thank You that as I'm faithful to run from temptation and sin, You are faithful to use me for Your glory in wonderful ways!
- J. M. Farro