Paul placed just a smidge of emphasis on this next charge to Timothy. What we’re called to do as Christians and ministers carries the weight of command from God Himself, including the Father and Son, Jesus (written here) and the Holy Spirit who is implied and directly included elsewhere. Jesus will judge all people. He will judge me as a person and as a minister. I answer to Him ultimately, not people, but how I interact with them matters to Him and He places some in authority over me. It carries the weight and authority of the returning King. Eternity matters more than the present, and I, all of us, need to be reminded of that constantly. It’s far too easy and common to get caught up in the present and think about temporal, even immediate needs, rather than eternity. We store up treasures here rather than there. We work for approval now rather than then. The reality is, though, that working for eternity is what actually brings joy now. God, may the Holy Spirit constantly remind me and well up in me a desire for eternal things, the supernatural ability to see beyond the physical present and into the seen and unseen spiritual war being waged all around me now and the reality and gravity and importance of eternity to come! I get focused on and frustrated with present circumstances. Fussy, disobedient kids grind on my nerves…adults, too. I can get caught up thinking about early retirement and the easy, more comfortable life, but all of that is fleeting. The only way any of that does any real good is if I use it for Kingdom purposes. Perhaps God really has blessed us in such a way that we’re more set up for church planting or missions or pastoring that would normally be bi-vocational. That’s an interesting thought. Money matters too much to me. Human approval does, too. God, align my heart with Yours!
I was just thinking back to my teenage years last night and really can’t remember much about what we were taught from Scripture. I know we had Bible studies and Sunday School classes, but I don’t remember what was covered. I remember people. I remember Bible stories. Our Scripture reading in Galatians last night brought it up. I really remember the impact that book had on me in college. My faith became more about faith and trusting Jesus than about how I acted. And with that my actions transformed in a whole new way. It’s the gospel, and not just an evangelistic tract or message. It tells me how the gospel continues to work throughout my life. Maybe I’d heard it before and just never paid attention or didn’t let it sink in. The gospel is precious and sweet and transformative. It’s found in Scripture. Timothy was rooted in it from infancy and Paul urged him simply to continue. His mother and grandmother taught him truth from the Hebrew Scripture. My parents taught me from the whole of Scripture. I was saved during a family devotional time. I have the luxury of the New Testament. Timothy lived during it’s formation and had direct apostolic teaching from Paul. Scripture is crucial to the godly life, to become more like Jesus. It’s all inspired by God, driven by Him through men’s hands and yet with their own style as part of it. With God’s Divine inspiration, there is no error, so we can fully trust His Word. And so, it is useful for teaching and instructing people, rebuking and correcting sin and wrong belief, and leading to life transformation to living more righteously. To the extent we’re connected to and following Scripture, we are fully equipped for what God has in store for us, for every good work for which He created us. We do not lack. If I am to plant a church, I do not lack. If I am to get back into senior leadership at an established church, I do not lack. If I am to take another kind of ministry role, I have what I need. If I am to go into the regular business world somehow, I am fully equipped to do it all for the glory of God because I have God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to guide me. I am even more richly blessed ot have constant access to a myriad of wonderful churches and Christian brothers and sisters to help me along. Thank You, God! Help me to remain connected to Your truth!
We’re in a confusing world. People pursuing good are often portrayed as evil, and increasingly so. People doing wrong with a convincing argument seem to succeed and grow a following sometimes. I have to constantly remind myself we’re in a battle we can’t even always physically see. I am growing more convinced there is more going on that is unseen than seen. When Paul writes about persecution, is he only talking about the physical? Surely he recognizes the evil spiritual influences behind some of it. But what of things like what Job experienced? IS that not spiritual warfare? Does that fall under persecution? Is my sister’s cancer a form of persecution from an unseen enemy? Is it a battle being waged that we’ll never know about that somehow has eternal significance? Or is it just the result of the fall that brought on sickness and decay? Whatever the answer, my task is to remain faithful by Holy Spirit enabling. Paul did. He faced worse. He taught truth purely, lived it, was clearly transformed by the Holy Spirit, never wavered from his mission, loved like God, and still faced persecution. And he endured faithfully through it. Timothy was an eye witness to all of that and walked through some of it with him. Timothy could expect the same, even from within his own congregation. I think that’s where it hurts the worst. Not so much when someone comes in to stir up trouble, but when it’s someone you’ve loved, cared for, and even trusted. The deceivers will only get worse. Their lies will grow more cunning and they’ll gain more of a following. Still we must endure. Their craftiness and power will never match the Holy Spirit. Lord, help my unbelief! Strengthen me in wearisome times. Help me to look to Jesus.2