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1 Timothy 6-2 Timothy 1: Timothy’s Fears Comfort Me

Ancient Rendering of Paul and Timothy

Ancient Rendering of Paul and Timothy

 

 

II Timothy 1 is actually a great comfort to me. 

Perhaps I’m reading too much into it. However, in this chapter it appears to me that Timothy has been having some struggles. He has been dealing with some fears regarding doing his work as an evangelist. Paul is lifting him up and encouraging him to stay on track.

Paul lets Timothy know about how much he has prayed for Timothy. He reminds him of his legacy of faith. More than that, instead of shaming Timothy for any seeking lack of faith, Paul affirms he knows the faith really is there. Timothy just needs to rely on it. He reminds Timothy of the miraculous gift of the Spirit he has through the laying on of Paul’s hands. That is, Timothy is not alone but the Spirit is working through him therefore he does not have a spirit of fear but a Spirit of power, love and self-control. He reminds Timothy that there is no need to be ashamed of the suffering of the Lord or of Paul. This suffering is no reason to think Timothy has ended up on the wrong side. Rather, he is on the winning side and needs to join in the suffering because despite all the suffering, Jesus Christ can be trusted with what Timothy and Paul committed to Him, that is, their souls.

This gets into II Timothy 2, but Paul reminds Timothy of the grace that is in Jesus.

Of course, all this information is really good. However, what comforts me the most is knowing I’m not alone. Even a great evangelist like Timothy had times of struggle. He had times when he needed to be provoked to love and good deeds by the likes of Paul. How easy it is for me to hit moments of despair because I don’t have a 24/7/365 powerful motivation to do what is right and do my work. Sometimes I have fears and struggles with preaching the truth, talking to others about the gospel and just generally doing the work of the Lord.

Don’t misunderstand, this chapter doesn’t give me permission to wallow in that. Rather, it simply lets me know that I’m not a loser because I have struggles. Rather, I’m like every other person who works in God’s kingdom. We all need encouragement at times. We all need to be stimulated, stirred up, spurred on and provoked. I may have struggles, but those struggles don’t mean I’m lost. They just mean I’m still living on earth. 

Therefore, this passage has a twofold help for me. First, I see that Timothy went through what I go through and I don’t have to feel alone. Second, I can also read Paul’s encouragement and be provoked to love and good deeds myself.

Hope this encourages you as well.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

November 18, 2008 Posted by | Comfort, Encouragement, Evangelism, II Timothy, perseverance | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hebrews 3-4: How Loving and Fearing God Fit Together in Christianity

I thought about titling this post “Second Verse, Same as the First.” The ends of Hebrews 2 and Hebrews 4 make almost the exact same point. I’m sure there is some scholarly name for this kind of parallel. Whatever we might call it, the point is clear that the Hebrew writer wanted us to turn to Jesus when we were tempted. He can and does help.

However, there was another point in the reading that jumped out at me. I don’t want to be too negative today, but for some reason Hebrews 4:1 struck a chord with me. In the ESV it reads, “Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.”

This verse was certainly not written by 21st century mainstream religionists. There are two key points in this verse that just don’t wash with modern mainstream “Christianity.” First, the suggestion that some who had become Christians might fail to reach the promised rest in eternity. Second, that we should fear the possibility that even though we have become Christians we might not reach the promised rest.

Now, I have no desire to propagate a fear-mongering approach to Christianity. I don’t think our service to God should be governed by fear. After all, perfect love casts out fear according to I John 4:18. Clearly, God does not expect fear to be the main motivator of our service.

However, having said that, here is this verse smack in the book of Hebrews. What should we do with it? Well, we certainly shouldn’t ignore it just because it doesn’t fit with modern sensibilities and the desire to be religiously popular. We need to recognize how it fits within the greater biblical context. The point is, while fear is not the governing principle of motivation in our lives, we need to understand that if we let the Bible’s teaching on grace so cloud our minds that we think we can just live how we want, we had better be afraid. 

Certainly, because of God’s grace, we who love God (interpret that, keep His commandments and His commandments are not burdensome-cf. I John 5:3) have no need for fear. However, if we think God’s love and grace for us means we can live without loving God (see above definition again), then we had better fear because we will not enter the rest.

The fact is, as unpopular as fearing God is today, a healthy dose of godly fear is a good thing when we keep it in its proper perspective. Love and fear God today and you will be walking the right path.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

November 3, 2008 Posted by | fearing God, Hebrews, loving God | , , , , , | Leave a comment