Not Taken Lightly…
Posted on April 13, 2023 by Elizabeth Welte in Freedom Fighters
The most humbling and yet astounding opportunity in life is to be chosen by God to walk with another in their journey towards Him. This is why children are a gift from God and we are to “train them up in the nurture and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).
When God in His wisdom expands your influence beyond these familial bonds, and this in order to minister to those who are responding in faith to so great a salvation, it’s a privilege not to be taken lightly. This is an honor in which we must earnestly heed Paul’s instruction to, “hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:13-14). I will forever be grateful that my dad lived a life that provided me an example of how to do this. No matter the obstacle or hardship my dad faced, he never turned from a faith in Jesus or His Word.
Some of Paul’s most heartfelt words were given to a young man named Timothy. This was a young man Paul referred to as, “my dear son, who I remember possessing a genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you” (v. 1:5).
Paul took the time before his execution to encourage Timothy to first and foremost, “be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 2:1). We so often leave grace at the doorway of our salvation as if it has no relevance beyond that threshold. Grace may be what ‘saves us through faith as a gift of God’ (Eph 2:8), but it is also the palette of colors by which our lives are painted; For our lives are God’s masterpiece, a work of art He has created anew in Christ Jesus. He has done this by His capacities of Grace, so we can do the ‘good’ things He planned for us long ago (Eph 2:10). It is by God’s Grace our confidence is kindled afresh as we rely on His gift of The Spirit of power and love and of discipline.
Second, Paul advised him to recall his own instruction, “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others” (2 Tim 2:2). I think Pastor Cook said it well, “those God invests in through us should be more like Christ than we ever were.”
Third, Paul warned Timothy that such responsibility comes with a cost. Everyone who stands against the tide of a culture that is set on leaving God out of their lives will endure the kind of suffering required of by discipline. Paul persuades Timothy to, “Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor.” Each of these professions requires suffering, or more pointedly the putting off of pleasure and the putting on of the right actions necessary to obtain excellence. The majority of people can’t see past their own selfishness to realize the glory of what God’s grace is ready to pour into their lives through such suffering. There is no change without suffering. Because this is true, Paul directs Timothy to “really consider hard what I am saying. And rely on The Lord, He will help you understand all these things” (vs. 2:3-7). Paul is not talking out the shoot here either, He knows by experience how important God’s Grace is to being conformed to the nature of Christ through suffering. Paul prayed in earnest for God to remove a hardship from his life. Yet God responded, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” Once Paul understood this, he was glad to let the suffering happen. He quit focusing on the struggles and obstacles and began appreciating the gift of God’s grace he received in those times of hardship. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on his weakness. Paul began rejoicing in these times saying, “Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become!” (2 Cor 12:7-10)
Finally, Paul tells Timothy that even though he is suffering in prison because of his faith, Jesus is ‘raised from the dead’, being victorious over sin and death, and He sits at the right hand of God advocating for those who walk by faith. Paul also reminds him that ‘God’s Word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, and cannot be chained!‘ Armed with this truth, Paul states “he is so willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus and to those God has chosen” (2 Tim 2:10).
I am forever grateful for my dad’s example in trusting Christ. So often we are blinded by the things we ‘want to be true’, that we miss out on what God has already blessed us with. I hate the times when I ventured off like the prodigal son only to realize I had all I needed right where God had already provided. I hope and pray that someone else God brings across my path may gain from my experience as I did my dad’s, and walk anew with Christ in such a great salvation.
Praying 4 U
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church. He is the author of two devotional books, “From a Chair by the Window.” And “#PrayerWinsThe Day”.
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)