Paul writes this letter to his dear friend Timothy to help him discern issues facing the early church. The wisdom here for us is still relevant and refreshing. You’ll recall Timothy was a young protégé of Paul’s serving as a church leader in Ephesus. Paul was a bit of a father figure to Timothy, too, so you might sense that kind of dynamic in the writing.
You can likely think of your own close Christian friend who took delight in pouring into you over the years. Those are treasured relationships. You may also be the wise one doing the same for the next generation. With all that is happening in our world, it’s easy to get distracted and focus on unhealthy sources. How thankful we can be for wise counsel, like Paul’s.
This week our texts have been focusing on the importance of Listening to God’s Word. This is one of the passages that always comes to mind for me when I think about the gift we have in our hands—the Bible.
Some of us have been acquainted with the Bible since childhood. Others may know the Bible exists but have no idea yet how precious it is. My heart breaks for those who are not reading God’s word and listening for his voice. They are missing out on trusting Jesus for our salvation. “You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.”
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.