Today’s text: Ezekiel 16-17 2 Timothy 2
In today’s text we find Paul offering encouragement from within a prison. Paul was an intelligent man and I am certain by this time he knew what lay before him. Despite his own hardships, “despite his present sufferings” he took advantage of this opportunity to encourage Timothy. He reminds him to “Guard the truth” (2 Tim 1:14) or as some translations put to “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you.” The early church was no stranger to persecution at the hands of the Jews but a storm was looming on the horizon. Soon persecution would test the character of every Christian like it had never been tested before. Paul reminds Timothy to “remain strong” in the difficult days that lay ahead and charged him to “fulfill” his ministry. Although this epistle is addressed to Timothy, I believe that the charge to “guard the truth” is a mantel lain across shoulders of all who would bear the title of Christian. In the first few verses of chapter 2 Paul outlines three ways to accomplish that end.
1) Be strong!
2 Timothy 2:1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
Paul reminds Timothy that as a leader at Ephesus his actions set an example for others. Paul is not referring to a strength that is Timothy’s alone but a strength that all can find who trust the grace of Christ. Having professed a faith in Jesus, others look to us to see if our actions harmonize with our faith. Although we draw our strength from Christ, it is our legs that must be placed into action. We must first exert the effort to stand and He will sustain us in our need. We must remain mindful of what things we lean upon for support. The hymnist put it well, “On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.”
2) Equip others!
2 Timothy 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.
An old Jewish proverb says, “Tears shared are sorrows divided and laughter shared is joy multiplied.” You’ve heard it said that, “Many hands make light the work.” Paul is saying train and equip others to stand in the faith. By training others to carry the gospel Timothy’s reach in fulfilling the ministry is greatly enhanced. Surrounding ourselves with others who share the common goal can provide much encouragement and prayerful support in times of challenge.
3) Be mindful of the message within the metaphors.
Paul points Timothy’s attention to the dedication of a soldier, the discipline of an athlete and the diligence of a farmer. Although there are many facets to each of the metaphors they each resonate on one common cord, commitment. Soldier, athlete or farmer all requires consistency and commitment in their efforts to achieve success. We also must serve with commitment if we are to be successful and “fulfill” our mission.