“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:10-11).
Occasionally in Nepal I have traveled into the high mountains to visit churches in remote villages. On one such trip my guide pointed out a spot on the path from which a Nepali had fallen to his death just a few days earlier.
I guess he could tell from my expression that I was a little surprised that a normally very sure-footed Nepali would fall from a place where I was passing without particular difficulty. He assured me, “He did not fall from the path; he was out on the side of the mountain trying to pick a wildflower for one of the tourists.”
In other words, he had left the relatively secure path and gone to a place that was much more dangerous. Not surprisingly he paid a terrible price for the risk he took.
That incident reminds me forcefully of many people’s unnecessary exposure to sin and temptation. They leave the fellowship of faithful Christians for the pleasure of worldly companions.
They neglect the spiritual environment of the Church, preferring that of a material nature. Not content with God’s rich blessings, they seek the treasures of this world. Trusting their ability to not go too far, they flirt with danger, heedless of the risk they are taking. Tragically many fall to their spiritual deaths.
Paul warned the young evangelist Timothy, “Flee these things.” Stay away from greed and the love of money. Don’t get near them. Remain safe while you pursue righteousness and godliness. There you will be firmly planted on solid ground, in little danger of falling.
Elsewhere he commanded, “Flee idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14), and “Flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). Again he said to Timothy, “Flee also youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22).
Whatever the temptation, the Christians safest position is to be removed as far from it as possible. If one wants to avoid a fatal fall, let him stay away from the edge of the mountain. The closer one gets to the precipice, the more danger in which he finds himself.
This is one appropriate application of Paul’s well known statement, “Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). He obviously meant that Christians should do nothing that is evil in any way. Not only should we avoid all kinds of sin, but we should avoid sin in every degree. What man may consider a “small sin,” hardly worthy of the name, may lead to some evil which is far more significant.
Of course, God does not consider any sin “small” or of no importance.
When walking in the mountains, it often seems as if every pretty flower one would like to pick is just out of reach from the path, requiring us to venture out onto the rocks and cliffs.
So it is with worldly pleasures. If we seek rewards and satisfaction from the things of the flesh, we will always be in danger of sin. Only when we pursue righteousness, and trust in God, will we be safe.