Over the past twelve weeks, North Country Fellowship Church has been working through the Epistle of 2 Timothy in a series entitled Fan the Flame. Prior to beginning 2 Timothy earlier this year, we also examined 1 Timothy in the summer of 2013, in a series entitled Healthy Church.
I have to say, I’ve really enjoyed preaching through these two books of the Bible! Part of the reason I’ve enjoyed my time studying these texts so much is because these writings really speak to me as a pastor. The apostle Paul wrote to provide pastoral counsel to his dear friend and co-laborer in Christ, Timothy. A young man, Timothy was a pastor in the church at Ephesus. He at times questioned how to best to care for and lead the church which God had given him oversight of, especially during times of conflict and opposition. Paul used these letters as an opportunity to encourage (and, at times, correct) this young pastor. As a younger pastor myself, I find many of the same practical ministry themes Paul addressed with Timothy are highly relevant for myself and many of the other “young guys” I know who are shepherding churches.
I love these books because they aren’t just for pastors—these books are incredibly helpful texts for the entire church body. The principles that Paul put forward impact a broad range of topics in the life and ministry of the church. He helped to define what a thriving, Christ-centered, Spirit-led, family-oriented church should look like. He called Timothy, and all of us, to a life of steadfastness even in the face of struggle or outright persecution. Paul wrote bluntly, out of a sincere love for our Lord and Savior, and drew from the widely-traveled experiences of his own life.
What I found most profound was how incredibly strategic Paul was. He brought virtually every concept he communicated back to the major driving force behind his ministry: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As Paul said in 2 Timothy 1:8-9 (ESV):
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.
Paul was never ashamed of the redemptive plan of God. He never grew tired of the unmerited favor he experienced in Christ, or the calling that he (and every follower of Jesus) was given to share that Gospel of Grace with others. Even as he came to the end of his life, having suffered with persecution, imprisonment, and loneliness, Paul remained steadfast in his commitment to the Good News of Jesus Christ.
What an incredible example for us!
At times it can be easy to let our desire for the things of God to take the backseat to the other things of life. Illness and injury, awkward finances, broken relationships, and so many other things can distract us from God’s purposes for us. However, Paul continually shows us a far better way! He shows us the way of grace; the way of faith in Jesus Christ.
May we commit to following Paul’s example. By the power of the Holy Spirit, may we fan the flame of the our faith. May we persevere through the trials of our lives, and be used to share the Gospel with all who would listen.