13 Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit through the Holy Spirit who lives in us. 15 You know that all those in the province of Asia have deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. 16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. 17 On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he diligently searched for me and found me. 18 May the Lord grant that he obtain mercy from him on that day. You know very well how much he ministered at Ephesus.
2 Timothy 1:13-18
A Facebook post asked, “What topic could you talk about to a group for 40 minutes with no preparation?” Responses included things such as golf, fitness and music, and several people mentioned faith. In order to talk that long on any subject and make it interesting, you have to have a working understanding of it. When talking about scripture, people want to know “What does it say, what does it mean, and how does that apply to me?”
Think about the resources we have available to us today compared to what Timothy had. Paul encourages Timothy to “Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me.” Timothy did not have a leather-bound Bible complete with the New Testament, a commentary to help with his understanding, or the ability to instantly access multiple scripture translations with a few clicks. He only had the words he had been given, and he was to share them “in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”
Paul warns Timothy he must “guard the good deposit” by delivering the true words he had been taught and by allowing the Holy Spirit to prevail. In some translations, “keep safe” is used in place of the word “guard.” When we think of the word “safe” in a normal sense, we think of things being kept separate, isolated or secure. But in this context, safety is just the opposite. It comes through the teaching and repetition of the same true words, over and over and over.
In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus had said “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.” Timothy was following these instructions.
He was the leader of the church in Ephesus, and like any pastor today, he faced challenges. Paul acknowledges that not everyone would follow him, and some he counted on would even abandon him. Others, however, would blossom and become servants as well, practicing what he taught them.
Like Timothy, our job as Christians is to continue to share the Good News while allowing the Holy Spirit to do the heavy lifting. And like Paul, we can also encourage our church leaders to be bold in their calling as they seek to guard and preach the good word of God.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- If you were asked to talk for 40 minutes with no preparation, what could you talk about?
- Although centuries apart, our church leaders face the same challenges as Timothy. Consider reaching out and offering the same encouragement Paul offered to him.
Be on Guard
Paul guarded the good Word throughout his life. He protected the Bible and told other people about Jesus. To remember how Paul protected the Word, we’re going to play a game where you have to protect something.
- To play Be on Guard you will need: blocks (or something to make a tower) and balls (no particular size).
- Build a tower as strong as you can and choose one person to be the Protector.
- The other players will each take their ball and try to knock down the tower by rolling the balls at the tower.
- The Protector must protect the tower by blocking the balls. If you have a lot of players, try having two Protectors.
- If the Protector successfully protects the tower from the rolling balls, they win!
Try playing again with a new tower and a new protector. Remember that as Christians, we are called to protect and guard the Word of God.