Friday, October 7, 2016
Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things. 2 Timothy 2:1-7(NLT)
Paul the apostle wasn’t Timothy’s biological father, but it’s hard to miss the mentor/protégé relationship. Paul knew Timothy’s family and upbringing, and he must have seen strength in the young pastor’s character and love for Christ.
This passage reminds me of a parent taking a deep breath just before seeing a son or daughter off on their first great adventure in life. Scary thing to let your children fly! Several years ago our daughter Jen invited her mother and I to watch as she and her husband jumped out of a plane to celebrate her 40th birthday. (Even worse, she wanted us to watch from a front row seat…to jump out of a perfectly good airplane with her). Well, we watched the video later; even that made my stomach flip!
Paul was sending his “son in the faith” Timothy to a much more dangerous activity; he was seeing the young man venture into the uncertainty of being a pastor to Christians at Ephesus in the hostile environment of the Roman government’s persecution.
In this sendoff Paul gave some last minute encouraging advice to Timothy. He told him to teach others, endure whatever hardships ministry brings, focus with integrity on his task, and remember there was a reward waiting for him at the end of his course.
Eventually Paul’s deep breath proved itself well-placed. Church tradition says that when Timothy was a bishop at 80 years of age, he tried to stop a procession through the streets of Ephesus honoring the goddess Diana by preaching the Gospel. According to the apocryphal Acts of Timothy “…[t]he angry pagans beat him, dragged him through the streets, and stoned him to death.”
I’m no Timothy, and have not had much threat of being stoned, but I did have “a Paul“ who preached my ordination service. His advice was:
· Russell, stay close to God
· Russell, stay close to people
· Russell, bring the two together
I would imagine that for everyone who has a heart to know and serve God there is a Paul who has those kinds of encouraging words to share with Timothy.
And at the end of it, like the traveling evangelist, church planter, father in the faith, Saul of Tarsus-turned Paul following Jesus, he would say…think about it. After all, if you make a life-decision to follow Jesus Christ, it may lead you to stand in front of Diana’s parade.
Every Christian is cautioned to count the cost of serving the LORD.
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