Randy Pausch was acclaimed in the academic world. He was a professor at Carnegie Melon University, working with art and science in the field of virtual reality. Immensely popular on campus, he became an internet success with his "last lecture" given before friends, family and colleagues after having been diagnosed with a fatal illness. His humorous and self-effacing account of his life and the things he'd learned while living it was filled with the typical words of wisdom (help others; don't give up), and beneficial mottos (brick walls show our dedication- they weed out those who don't really care). Randy summarized his philosophy of life by saying: "If you lead your life the right way, your dreams will take care of themselves; they will come to you". His departing thought was a wish that he'd given off good "karma" and made a difference in the world. Pausch died on July 25, 2008, having inspired a new generation of virtual "techies" and living life the way he saw fit.
I am sure that these men, and the words they've left behind, have impacted and influenced others. But I find their final thoughts, their "wisdom" about life, to be focused on the very physical realm of living only. Not so with Paul. His final words to his young protégé Timothy are focused on the Christian life and how we are to make an eternal difference right where we are.
Timothy joined Paul's ministry team on the Paul's 2nd missionary trip. He came from the city of Lystra, about 200 miles east of Ephesus, and was now charged with overseeing the church in that massive city. Although he was young to be a leader in the cultural mindset of his day, Paul felt very strongly about his abilities (Phil. 2:19-22) and loved him like a son. Both Timothy's mother and grandmother were believers of Jewish descent, but his father was Greek (Acts 16:1-3). His mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, raised him to know the Scriptures (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15). 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.
The “book” of 2 Timothy is a letter which contains Paul’s final instructions to his beloved son in the faith (but they could just as well have been written to us). Over 1,000 miles away and in prison Paul is uncertain whether or not he will not see Timothy again so he addresses four areas of concern. First and foremost, Paul is concerned about our witness in the world (2 Tim. 1:8; 2:3, 18; 4:1, 5). Secondly, Paul is concerned about our walk with God (2 Tim. 1:6, 14; 2:1, 16, 19, 22, 23; 3:10, 14, 16). This is an aspect of our faith that requires the “maintenance” of regular Bible study, fellowship and self-sacrifice. These activities keep the Spirit fresh within us and make us more attentive to His leading. Thirdly, Paul is concerned about our spiritual health (2 Tim. 1:13; 2:2, 15; 4:15). There is a plethora of Christian “how-to” books out there, but there is only one BOOK that is inspired (2 Tim. 3:16). I'm not saying the others are bad, but you should always go to the Bible first- then the rest. The Bible is inspired; direct from God to you- therefore the Bible is THE book to instruct you, correct you, exhort you, and train you for your walk of faith. And lastly, Paul is concerned with our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ (2 Tim. 2:11-13, 24; 4:19-21).
Your life is also a letter. 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 from its teaching? Or are we distracted with other 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? Paul wanted Timothy to remember these principles as he continued to minister in Ephesus. Like Timothy we are stationed in a time and place to do the same. What is in your letter today?
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
Week of 2/26/2017