Good things entrusted to us. 1:6-14
It seems that Timothy is a person who is easily overwhelmed by circumstance. Certainly that was how Paul saw him and so in the opening section of this his second letter to Timothy, Paul does his best to bolster him up so that he will no longer be debilitated by fear. Paul chooses to strengthen him with objective reality, with divine truth.
v6. Timothy had received a special endowing/equipping of the Spirit for his service to Christ. This gift, this infilling of the Spirit, is given to all who give their lives to Jesus. Through this infilling, Timothy received gifts suitable for his gospel ministry. This was confirmed by a prophetic word, 1Tim.4:14, and was accompanied by the laying on of hands (prayer visibly expressed). Therefore, as far as Paul is concerned, Timothy should bravely exercise these gifts.
v7. The endowment of this charisma, this infilling of the Spirit, involves an infusion of the very character of God. It doesn't promote "a timid spirit", a shrinking-fear, rather it promotes: i] power - a personal alliance with unseen forces; ii] love - an impassioned devotion to Christ which overwhelms all self pleasing; iii] self-discipline - the mastery of self-needs.
v8. Given such character-renewal, Timothy should faithfully exercise his ministry rather than be debilitated by fear, feeling ashamed for the gospel and Paul's imprisonment.
v9. Paul now directs Timothy to consider the substance of the gospel. Christ has rescued us from an eternity without God and invited us to share his likeness - to be holy. None of this is of our doing, rather it is the product of God's intention for creation and as such is an act of undeserved favour toward us. All this came to us through the gospel and was set aside for us within God's purpose, even before time began.
v10. But now, the gift of a divine-like state does not just exist in the mind of God, but in reality. We have gained Christ-likeness through the gospel because Jesus has destroyed death and ushered in immortality.
v11. It was this gospel that Paul was authorized to proclaim.
v12. Paul has faced the pressures and troubles caused by gospel ministry, but he remains confident in God's power, ability and intention to guard the truth of the gospel as he now entrusts it to his subordinates, and from them to eternity.
v13-14. As far as Paul is concerned, the answer for Timothy, in the face of the uncertainties of life, is a simple one: hold fast to gospel truth - hold fast to the outline of propositional revelation, that good deposit, that revelation of Divine truth taught by Paul and the other apostles. Timothy is to hold fast in the strength of the Spirit.
The flight of fear|
In this second letter to Timothy, Paul encourages his young assistant to live the Christian life and exercise his gifts. Just get in and do it and don't shrink from it. "Do not be ashamed", says Paul. "God did not give us a spirit of timidity." This was true for Timothy, it is true for us. Here then is Paul's advice:
Affirm the indwelling presence of Christ. Timothy had the power to live for Christ, for he had received the infilling of the Spirit. "I remind you" says Paul, "to fan into flame the gift of God." As believers, we have received the powerful presence of the Spirit of Christ in our lives. We are touched by his indwelling presence. Yet, we can forget that Christ stands with us through life. We can forget to draw on his resurrection power. So, let us be reminded to fan into flame the indwelling presence of Christ, to release his infilling power.
Follow the example of the great ones of faith. Here was Paul, a "prisoner", "suffering for the gospel." Yet, he says of himself, "I am not ashamed". Instead of defeat or melancholy, a feeling we have all experienced when life has finally gotten us down, Paul is filled with confidence. He does not have a "spirit of timidity". The reason is simple, Paul knows whom he believes in and he is confident of his power.
Rest on God's grace. This grace of God is found in Christ; it was revealed in Christ - in his life and particularly in his resurrection. Grace is the substance of the gospel message. What does this kindness of God entail? The substance of God's grace is the gift of "life", of "immortality", "given us in Christ". With such an amazing gift, how can we fear.
Rely on the abiding truths of scripture. Unlike the mass of humanity, Timothy is not without a direction for living; he has the "sound teaching" of Jesus Christ; he has the "deposit" "entrusted" to him. Having a gospel direction in life, with its promise of eternity, can only but give confidence and drive fear away.
Paul's advice to Timothy can be ours, such that we can use it as an instrument to overcome the debilitating effects of fear.
1. What fears affect the worth of your Christian walk?
2. What was Timothy afraid of?
3. What was Paul's advice to Timothy?
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