1 You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
2 Timothy 2:1-2
Paul is a hero in the faith to me. When God stopped him in his tracks, blinded him and spoke to him on the road to Damascus, his life was transformed. When his eyes were opened to the truth about Jesus, he never looked back. He would spend the rest of his life proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, whether persecuted, flogged, beaten, run out of town or chained in prison. Over and over he ruffled the feathers of kings, leaders and anyone who opposed the gospel message. He would preach a sermon at the drop of a hat. Along the way Paul became a teacher, coach, spiritual father and mentor to young men like Timothy. He gave his life away 24-7 for the sake of the gospel.
In May 2010 I stood with a sports team in the underground prison on the island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea, where Paul was shipwrecked and kept for three months on his way to Rome (Acts 28). I was frozen in place to think that some of our scripture might have been written in the very place where I stood.
Today’s scripture finds Paul again imprisoned in Rome. Nothing new here, except he probably knew his work, even his life, was likely coming to an end. There is no “woe is me” in Paul. He is thinking about one of his spiritual sons, Timothy, into whom he had poured his life. Paul loved Timothy, embraced his potential and mentored him. They had shared missionary journeys together. Now, that will bond you like nothing else!
So here we find Paul writing another letter to Timothy, who is now pastoring a church in Ephesus, preaching the gospel, leading and investing in others’ lives. Timothy is paying it forward! Paul addresses him as son. “Be strong, my son” – a command, yet seasoned with Paul’s deep love for and investment in Timothy. He is the “coach,” telling his student, “Be strong in grace that is in Christ Jesus and commit what you know to others.” Paul is saying, “Through God’s grace, you can do this, Timothy. Work at it with all your heart. Trust, stand firm, be bold.”
Then he becomes the “teacher.” “All the things you have heard me preach and proclaim before so many witnesses, you have been called, appointed and anointed to entrust to others. Then they will teach others also.” I would like to have had Paul give a pep talk to my basketball teams. I think his tenacious, encouraging and passionate commitment to the gospel would translate into a great pregame speech!
We don’t know all Timothy was going through in the church that caused him to need this kind of encouragement. It probably is not unlike what our pastors go through today. I often think about our own ministers who face trials and frustrations, even lack of confidence, that warrant a word of encouragement from us, the members.
Paying it forward! Disciples making disciples! Teachers teaching a student, who in turn teaches others, who then teach still others. Or a coach who inspires and challenges, who ignites fire and desire and confidence in a team or individuals that makes them go out and stay the course. Or a neighbor who walks across the street to extend random acts of kindness and encouragement!
I have claimed Psalm 71:17-18 as a life’s verse for this phase of my life. “Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. When I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Who in your life has been a “Paul” to you through the years? Send a note of gratitude for their investment in your life.
- Who is the young Timothy God has put in your life right now that needs a “pep talk” and encouragement?
- Pray for our ministers. Surprise one of them with a note of gratitude and encouragement.
- The gospel is best when shared. It wasn’t meant to be hoarded and kept to ourselves. Pay it forward!
In life, all of us have someone who is encouraging us, and someone that we can be encouraging along our way. As a family, make a list of people who inspire you, maybe a teacher or a coach, and make them a gift to say thank you. Maybe a handmade card or their favorite treat. Also, make a list of your “Timothy’s” people who each of you could help along their way! Write them a note of encouragement or find a way to give them a “pick me up” on a hard day.
Pray for the church planting efforts of Jason and Jennifer, global workers from our church family in Europe