Do you ever think about what people will remember about you after you’re gone? Paul was nearing the end of his life, and he said, “As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God … I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” That sounds like a good legacy to me. If people were to say that I remained faithful and that my life was an offering to God, I would be delighted.
We are each given the gift of life. Our instruction manual is none other than the Bible. There is so much wisdom and truth that we can grasp on to for direction and clarity. What’s also essential is having a relationship with God and embracing the Spirit’s help in understanding the message for us each day. Being in relationship with God is a key piece to our journey of faith.
I don’t know if Timothy ever saw Paul after receiving this letter. In terms of “last words,” Paul was giving Timothy one last lesson. What a relationship they had! Timothy was like a son to Paul. The baton is being passed in these short verses. Paul wants to set Timothy up for success. Why? Because the message is just that important.
Just think if Paul and the early Christians had taken the easy way out. Would there be a New Testament? Would we even know about Jesus? There are many people in this world who are still clueless about who Jesus is. Even some of those who know the name, don’t really “know” Jesus. They haven’t “experienced” Jesus, had the rush of the Holy Spirit in their lives, seen prayers answered before their very eyes.
As a child, I was taught to respect my elders. We called adults by Mr. and Mrs., using their last names. Authority figures were to be looked up to. As a child, that meant parents, teachers, etc. Sadly, I don’t see that same kind of respect in today’s youth. However, that can actually come in handy when the teachers we’re “supposed” to respect start going off on tangents that are not in line with our own belief system.
Paul is cautioning Timothy and us to be careful. Paul was using himself as an example of a teacher who was trustworthy. Paul said, you “know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance.” There were no hidden agendas. Paul’s love and devotion for Christ were transparent. He was crystal clear on his mission.
A lot of people are talking about being in the “last days” lately. I suppose it’s because we are seeing all sorts of “signs” often associated with the end of time. In reality, the “last days” officially started with Jesus’ resurrection and will end with his second coming. So, we are indeed living in the “last days.”
Today’s reading is especially striking though, in terms of its description of what Paul is cautioning Timothy about. We are certainly living in difficult times. The times were difficult then, and they are difficult now. However, we, at least, live in an area of the world where we don’t need to live in fear for our faith. For those that do need to study and praise in private, I pray for you!
I’m not sure I’ve ever thought of myself as a utensil before, but as I reflected on this passage, I can see it’s a beautiful analogy. After all, Paul said, “If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.” I don’t know why, but that really stood out to me today.
It’s often been my prayer to be used by God. I know from looking back at my life and my relationships that he has done just that. We could go off on a whole tangent about utensils, and that might make for an interesting reflection. But because there is so much good stuff in this passage, I’ll just say that this was a helpful image for me today. There is a right and wrong time to use a fork, for example, to eat a brothy soup it’s not the best choice. But the fork is particularly helpful if your food needs to be stabbed for ease in consumption.