Questions: Whence cometh our strength? What should we pass on? To whom? At what cost? Why? To what end? How will we know what is true? How can we be worthy of it? What must we give up?
“Read More” to pursue answers from Second Timothy.
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Lord, make me a Fountain of your Love.
Draw me into your Presence
And fill me with your Holy Spirit
That I would know you as my Father
And manifest the image of Christ
In this world, and the world to come. Amen.
Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
An interesting phrase: “strong in grace.” Not strong in himself, nor weak in grace, but consciously choosing to be strong in Jesus, by His grace.
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
There is no secret, hidden knowledge here; everything was done publicly, and meant to be passed on publicly.
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of [this] life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
The idea here seems to be of a man entrusted with a stern duty, something worth risking life and limb to accomplish; a man who glories in the difficulties overcome and temptations avoided, because of the greatness of his calling. As we see in the athletic metaphor:
And if a man also strive for masteries, [yet] is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
And (cf. other translations) also in an agricultural metaphor:
The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.
Clearly, the triple repetition implies Paul wants Timothy to take this very seriously:
Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
But, what exactly are those ‘things thou hast heard of me”?
Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:
The resurrection was clearly the central message of the early church — and their primary scandal:
Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, [even] unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.
Not that he’s complaining; for he’s doing it out of love:
Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
For he already counts himself dead, for the sake of the life of Christ:
[It is] a faithful saying:
For if we be dead with [him], we shall also live with [him]:
If we suffer, we shall also reign with [him]:
f we deny [him], he also will deny us:
If we believe not, [yet] he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
There’s an awful lot of theology in that tiny refrain; but Paul’s primary message seems to be simply that Timothy needs to focus on what is truly important:
Of these things put [them] in remembrance, charging [them] before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, [but] to the subverting of the hearers.
And what is the opposite of useless word fights?
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
But shun profane [and] vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
To me, that is the ultimate test of healthy theology: does it promote godliness? Or does our so-called theology merely feed our pride and argumentative spirits, which become a cancer on our soul:
And their word will eat as doth a canker:
As has already happened with some:
of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
Fortunately, their lies don’t invalidate the truth. Why?
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
This is actually critical to our life of faith: the belief that God is continually calling a people unto himself, despite our own confusion, distortion, and wickedness.
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, [and] prepared unto every good work.
Again, Paul seems to be urging Timothy to cleanse himself from fear and base desire, in order to accomplish the great work that Paul has entrusted to him:
Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
While avoiding the petty squabbles of the so-called learned:
But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
Because that isn’t how real men of God conduct themselves:
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all [men], apt to teach, patient,
Even towards those who disagree!
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
For even with them, our goal is not to show them up, but to leave room for God to help them escape:
And [that] they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
In other words, we shouldn’t get angry at those who oppose us, but pity them for being deceived. Lest we fall into the same trap!
God, I confess that I have wasted far too much time on petty squabbles, driven by my own pride. Worse, I’ve wimped out in the face of adversity, weighed down by youthful lusts and dishonorable usage. Father, forgive me. Cleanse me, that I may be a worthy vessel for your glory. Make me strong in your grace, that I may pursue righteousness, faith, charity and peace with my whole heart, unto every good work. Raise my spirit from the dead, that I may live with you, and walk with you always. I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.
About the Title:
Today’s title is famous as a bit of cockney rhyming slang.