When I was 15-years old, my uncle took me on a fishing trip to The Cisco Chain of Lakes, which borders Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Before heading in after a long day on the water, we anchored over one more potential spot.
I grabbed the thickest worm I could find, baited my hook, and let her fly! Total chaos ensued. I began reeling, huffing, and throwing the entirety of my strength into catching this Michigan monster. My uncle dove across the fishing boat, ripped open the seat compartment, and snatched up a fishing net. Finally, the fish was right under us and my uncle reached down, caught it in the net, and pulled the thing into the boat…a 21-inch smallmouth bass. A fish I’m still proud of to this day and one in which remains mounted above the mantel of our fishing cabin.
But this is not just some big fish tale. In fact, there is a spiritual principle we can learn: lured fish end up mounted on walls.
You see, my bait and tackle didn’t care what size the fish was, its purpose was to lure any fish that would be foolish enough to swallow the hook.
Metaphorically speaking, too often as men, we are lured in by the things of this world. We swim towards success, status, sex, money, gratification and all the rest of Satan’s lures. If we are not careful, we will end up mounted on the enemy’s wall of shame and regret.
So how do we avoid the lures of this world? How do we live with no regrets?
The apostle Paul provides the answer in his first letter to Timothy. He says,
“flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11).
For context, Timothy was a young pastor in the Ephesian church that Paul had planted several years earlier. Paul had entrusted this congregation to his protégé. Only to learn that when he had left, several men had come in and began leading Timothy’s congregation astray. These men taught that Jesus could not forgive certain sins and the only way to be assured of God’s forgiveness was to pay them money.
Paul is deeply troubled by this false teaching. It seems to him that what a church believes will have a direct impact on how the church will live. Hence the urgency of his letter to Timothy.
He encourages Timothy to find elders (leaders) who have outstanding character qualities and high levels of integrity (1 Timothy 3:2-7). These are signs that the Holy Spirit has matured these believers, and prepared them for roles of leadership. Paul contrasts these individuals with those who lust after wealth.
To be clear, the lust that Paul speaks about is a deep yearning that completely overtakes their hearts. Not a passing desire. More than that, Paul is not concerned with the wealthy members of the church, but rather, with the teachers whose lust for wealth has led them to reject Jesus’ forgiveness in favor of material gain. Paul compares this desire to a trap claiming that it will lead to their total moral ruin.
Emphatically, Paul goes on to lay out what it means for Timothy to be a Man of God. It is an overwhelming desire – not for money – but for that which is right and just; for a life lived in the full assurance and trust of God’s saving grace; for the steadfast spirit of a warrior in the garden.
FLEE the lures, Paul makes clear! Or else you will be caught: hook, line, and sinker. To avoid the lure, FLEE.
But Paul doesn’t stop there, he adds one more step: Pursue Him!
Now, I need to be honest with you at this point. You do not pursue God because it will make you wealthy; you may not even be happy in your circumstances (John the Baptist wasn’t always happy). After all, the fish who doesn’t get caught goes hungry. Paul goes on to clarify that the riches of the Christian are in our good works, generosity, and integrity (6:18-19). It may be that we end up poor and exhausted.
But the apostles did not see this as ruining our lives. In fact, Peter sees this as a win, as though we were reenacting what Jesus Himself went through (1 Peter 2:21). They seem to be convinced that getting the forgiveness of Christ wrong is more of a life-threatening reality than being poor.
So why pursue God?
“[God] is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see, to him be honor and eternal power. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:15-16).
You pursue God because all accounts have been balanced, because you are no longer your own and a slave to sin – because of Christ’s work on the cross – PURSUE a life lived in God.
Or in my words: don’t be a big, dumb fish or you will fall for that lure and end up mounted on a wall.
That is, after all, why we host the No Regrets Conference in Brookfield. To honor this pursuit. To flee the lure, and not be hung up on a mantle piece like an apathetic trophy fish. We hold this conference to inspire this pursuit in others. So that by the end of it, with one loud voice, we may proclaim how holy God is.
That is why our speakers will be hosting seminar topics such as: “Pursuing a Godly Marriage” (Steve Carter); “Pursuing Work and Life” (Rod Hairston) and “Pursuing Christ” (Chris Brown).
We hope to see you at Elmbrook Church on February 4th, 2023 to “Pursue” a life lived with God.
Please visit our website for more details: https://www.noregretsconference.org/