April 22, 2014
READ: 2 Timothy 2:1-13
Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them (v.4).
A young woman wrote: “I’ve fallen in love with an unbeliever, but I know it’s wrong. What should I do?” One of our authors posted her question and his answer on the ODJ website.
Three months later, the young woman made a comment in the same post. She said that even though unbelieving family and friends condemned her for not marrying the young man, she chose to break up with him due to her love for Jesus. She described the persecution she’d endured, but also the joy in doing what pleased God. Then—get this—she wrote that the young man had recently become a believer! She closed by writing, “Let us come to God with a pure heart, willing to obey.”
The apostle Paul wrote to his protégé Timothy, instructing him in what it takes to have a “pure heart” and to “keep [himself] pure” (1 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:21). Paul knew that the heart decisions that led to purity before God were hard ones. Yet he implored Timothy to realise that “soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them” (v.4). In other words, doing what’s contrary to God’s commands (including marrying an unbeliever) is disobedience and sin that breaks God’s heart and leads to personal heartache.
Paul called Timothy to make heart decisions that might lead to suffering, but would also “bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus” (v.10). For if we “endure hardship, we will reign with [God]. If we deny him, he will deny us” (vv.12-13).
The young woman who wrote to ODJ made the hard decision. The result? A young man has now received Jesus as his Saviour. May we follow her example in all our heart decisions. —Tom Felten
1 Kings 22:29-40 ‹365-day plan
Read Philippians 1:12-14 and see the results of Paul’s choice to live for Jesus despite the persecution he faced.
What heart decisions have you been wrestling with? How do Paul’s words and actions give you hope as you seek to live a pure life for Jesus?