Timothy joined Paul's ministry team on the Paul's 2nd missionary trip (Acts. 16:1-3). He came from the city of Lystra, about 200 miles east of Ephesus. Both his mother and grandmother were believers in Jesus (2 Tim. 1:5), but it appears from the wording in Acts that his father was not. Although he was young in the eyes of the cultural mindset of his day to be a leader, Paul felt very strongly about his abilities (Phil. 2:19-22; 1 Tim. 1:3; 6:20-21) and loved him like a son (1 Tim. 1:2). What we gather from Paul's letters to Timothy is that he was on the timid side, somewhat uncertain of himself, but also loyal and committed to serving God and Paul (1 Tim. 4:12). Combine what you've learned about Ephesus, with what you know about Timothy and you can imagine what this gentle, young soul was facing when he took on the leadership of the Ephesian church. But there was a further complication, distance. When Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy, he was on the road and Timothy was in Ephesus. When the second letter was written, Paul, Timothy’s trusted mentor, father figure and fellow evangelist was in prison in Rome (over 1.000 miles away, if I did my math correctly!). It must have been difficult to have the teacher and friend he relied on for strength absent from the day to day demands of his ministry and as far as we know, these two letters are Paul’s final words to Timothy. That makes these words even more significant and just as applicable to us.
There are four basic categories that Paul is concerned with in regards to Timothy and us. First and foremost, Paul is concerned about our witness in the world (1 Tim. 4:14-16; 2 Tim. 1:8, 13; 2:3, 15, 24; 3:10; 4:1, 5, 15). Secondly, Paul is concerned about our walk with God (1 Tim. 1:5, 18-19; 2:8-10; 4:1-11; 6:3-12; 2 Tim. 1:6, 14; 2:1, 15, 19, 22, 23; 3:10, 14, 16; 4:5). Paul reminds us we must kindle the Spirit- like stirring up the embers in a fire, so that it keeps burning. How do we do this? By reading God's Word, coming together with His people, spending time with Him in prayer, and sharing what He has done in our lives with others. These are the things that keep the Spirit refreshed within us. Thirdly, Paul is concerned about our spiritual health (1 Tim. 1:4-11; 4:13-16; 2 Tim. 2:2; 3:14, 16). In his words to Timothy Paul admonishes us to entrust teaching to faithful men and to remember and follow the teachings of Scripture. The Bible should always be our first resource when we have questions concerning our walk of faith because it is inspired; direct from God to you! And lastly, Paul is concerned with our relationship with other believers (1Tim. 3:1-16; 5:1-6:2; 2 Tim. 2:11-13; 4:19-21). Paul particularly tells Timothy to remind the church of God’s promises. When you know a brother or sister is hurting, struggling, or suffering, do you know how powerful those promises can be? They offer HOPE, and hope is a powerful weapon in overcoming the trials of this world.
Your life is a letter that you are writing for all to read. Paul says there are four areas that we are to examine as we write this letter. First, what is our witness like? Are we living STRONG in the grace of Christ? Secondly, what is our relationship with God like? Are we keeping that gift of His Spirit refreshed? Thirdly, how is our spiritual health? Are we in God's Word, drawing our strength from its teaching? Or are we distracted with other more earthly things? And lastly, what is our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ like? Are we an encouragement? Are we a need waiting for a solution, or a solution waiting for a need? The way you live reflects your response to these questions.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
Week of 11/8/2015