"In Today’s reading in 2 Timothy chapter 2 verses 1 to 26, Paul uses four images to help Timothy understand his ministry: a teacher, a soldier, an athlete and a farmer. The thing that a soldier, an athlete, a farmer and a workman all have in common is hard work and a focus on the task. Paul mentions some potential distractions including the “evil desires of youth” and arguing. That was Paul’s message to Timothy and to you." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.The books referred to as First and Second Timothy in the New Testament are letters written by Paul to Timothy. Timothy had traveled for some time with Paul and the two grew close. In six of Paul's letters to the Churches which also ended up as books in the New Testament he names Timothy as a co-sender (2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon). At the time of this letter Paul is in prison again. This time he is not under house arrest with plenty of visitors but he is chained like a common criminal in a cold dungeon. It appears that Paul knew that his work was done and his life was nearly at an end (4:6-8).
Paul begins his second letter to Timothy affectionately referring to him as "my dear Son" and writing "I constantly remember you in my prayers" and "I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy." He also twice requests that Timothy come to visit him in prison. Paul and Timothy were close like a father and son. Paul was like a mentor to Timothy. These letters are full of encouragement and advice in sharing the gospel and leading the Church.
In this passage we see Paul encouraging Timothy to "be strong" and "endure". Stay focused on the truth you have learned. Remember Jesus and his resurrection. Don't get pulled into quarrels about words and stay away from "foolish and stupid arguments". Gently teach those who oppose the truth. Be kind to everyone and keep from resentment. Turn away from evil and "pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace" in community with other followers of Christ.
All very challenging to me today. Strong words. Strong advice. But I go back to the beginning. I am caught by the opening words of Paul in this passage.
...be strong in the grace that is in Christ JesusLet those words sink deep into your mind. Meditate on them. There is power in the Grace found in Jesus. Grace that is needed because of our weakness and failures.
I am reminded of a paragraph from another letter written to followers of Christ in Corinth where Paul was writing about his own weakness, his own, as he called it, "thorn in my flesh", and "a messenger of Satan". He is writing about the response he got from the Lord to his prayer to have this weakness removed.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)He went on to write this simple and profound thought.
For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)The connection between my weakness, my failure, my sin to strength and power can look a little strange on the surface. To say that power is perfected through weakness or that at my weakest moment there is strength, is almost funny. And without knowing Christ, it is funny. Even absurd. But in view of the Grace of God found in Christ it is exceptionally, incredibly, and beautifully true.
I am working through the E100 Bible Reading Challenge again. You can learn more about my journey and read the other posts completed so far at this link. I encourage you to stop back soon to read another passage.
Please share your own thoughts on this passage in the comment section below or on the Facebook page.