Are you headed for destruction? I certainly hope not! Paul reminds us that even believers may fall prey to distractions of this world. If you’re like me, you’ve been concerned at times by some of the behaviors or conduct of your friends and colleagues. They seem oblivious to the dangers of this world and embrace it so they can “fit in.” This is not what Paul intends for his fellow believers.
What does it mean to you to be an “enemy of the cross of Christ”? Paul would suggest these “enemies” are too focused on the present. While I am all about being “present” in community so I don’t miss a cue for prayer or way I can support or lead, I try not and allow the expectations of society shape my conduct. It can be a struggle.
How many times have you held on to something from your past and let it define you? Maybe you made a bad decision or took a wrong path, and now you don’t know how to step out of the shadows of your regret. We have all made mistakes in life. What do you think of Paul’s counsel? That is, “forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.”
There is freedom in those words when we take them to heart. Rather than hold on to uncomfortable memories or failures weighing us down, it’s time to look forward to the beautiful future we will experience as followers of Christ. Like Paul, we can strive to be more like Jesus and live a life that pleases him.
My self-confidence as a child was next to nothing. I was always picked last for games at recess, and I was often teased for being plumper than the other girls. It didn’t matter that my parents were proud of me or that teachers liked me. I never felt like I was good enough. My first husband added to that insecurity with his abuse and harsh words. Paul’s words truly liberate me, even today.
We don’t have to stress out about our own abilities. It is in Christ we can have all the confidence we need. He will never let us down. Paul reminds his audience of his Jewish credentials, but still his humility shines through. He acknowledges even he was nothing without Christ. The same is true for us. Whether we are popular or not, our value lies in our connection to Jesus.
What does it mean to be like Timothy? Paul tells us Timothy “genuinely cares” about people and how they are getting along. He has the heart of a servant and has walked alongside Paul while preaching the Good News. Can you imagine how amazing that would have been to spend time with Paul?
Paul has seen a lot in his life, both before and after his conversion in Acts. For him to have such high praise and confidence in Timothy speaks very well for his young protégé.
Why do you do what you do? If you’re thinking of your occupation, there has to be a “back story.” Why did you choose that career? If you’re thinking about the choices you make in your free time, chances are good you have a reason for those, too.
Then there are the parts of our lives that seem to be on autopilot. For instance, I don’t remember a lot about brushing my teeth this morning, but I know I did.