Read 2 Timothy 1:1-7
1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,
2To Timothy, my dear son:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 6For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (NIV)
As we begin to look at 2 Timothy, we know this is an early letter of Paul. One of the ways we can trace the order of Paul’s letters is to look at how he addresses himself. In the early letters, he calls himself an apostle. As time goes on, he changes his title to servant and finally to slave. Paul took his calling seriously. He saw it as an honor in that he was called by God for this purpose. And each of us has been called by God for a purpose. We see it in the gifts and graces we have been given as well as the Spiritual Gifts we have. It is up to each of us to not only discover that calling, but to live into it. Paul believed his calling was not only an honor, but a responsibility to be lived into. And Paul also believed his calling was a privilege.
We see in verse 2, Paul’s relationship with Timothy. He calls him “beloved son” or “beloved child.” The translation can be either. But we know that Paul is not his physical father. But one who has poured a lot into Timothy as a mentor. I have read much over the years that each of us needs three different people in our lives. In using Paul as the base, people would say we need a Barnabas, a Silas and a Timothy in our lives. Barnabas was one who came along Paul and mentored him. Silas was a person Paul came along side of who was a contemporary in his faith journey. They were at the same point in the journey. And Timothy was someone Paul came alongside to help as he was helped by Barnabas. Do you have these three in your life?
Paul then moves to the purpose of this letter which is to encourage Timothy. Usually in the first few verses of a letter, we find the purpose in a very general sense. Paul starts by reminding him he prays for him. He remembers his tears and longs to see him. Paul mentions Timothy’s heritage as it relates to faith in Christ. Basically, Paul is telling Timothy he believes in him. When faced with difficult tasks, it is great to hear from people who believe in you, who are on you side and will support you in your work. Do you have someone in your live that you are pouring into, believing him them to succeed in life?
Paul closes this section by reminding Timothy of the qualities which should characterize the Christian teacher. He begins with courage, not timidity. It takes courage at times to stand in one’s faith and we can as we lean into Christ. Then there is power. God gives us power to endure the work and the tasks required of our calling. Paul follows this with love, a self-giving love. For the teacher or leader, it is love of the people you teach and lead. And finally, he mentions self-discipline. The Greek word is “sophronismos” which is very difficult to translate. Some early scholars called in the “sanity of saintliness.” It is the character of not being overwhelmed by the work when passions and or panic comes into the work. It is given by God to help us stay the course when we might otherwise run from the work. This is what I have seen lacking most in people who volunteer for work in the church. They all too often quit when things get a little tough or even testy. Church work can be both as we deal with so many personalities. But we can have the disciple to remember why we do the work we do, that we are called by God to the work and equipped by God for the work. And mostly, it is up to God to make it successful, not us. We are to be faithful in the going and doing.
Blessings and Peace