A study of 2 Tim.1:1 – 2:26
“Tree-skiing may sound like a death wish, but some skiers love the risk of skiing virgin powder lying in a stand of aspen or spruce. The key, of course, is not hitting the trees! In Outside magazine, writer and skier Tim Etchells lays out the challenge:
Even more so than in deep snow or moguls, what you focus your eyes on becomes critical in the woods. Look at the spaces between the trees—the exits where you hope to be traveling. “Don’t stare at what you don’t want to hit,” says [extreme-skiing world champion Kim] Reichelm matter-of-factly”. [Vision for Life: Citation: Tim Etchells, “The Trees: Lovely, Dark, and Deep,” Outside (November 1999), p. 128, from Perfect Illustrations]
Living the life of a believer in Christ, in Paul and Timothy’s time, and under present conditions, is by no means easy or pleasant. News items constantly remind us of the difficulties that we face when we exercise our faith in God and live our lives pleasing God in accordance with the teaching of the scriptures.
Paul begins by reminding Timothy <2 Tim.1:1-5>, and all believers, that we are commissioned by Christ to preach the gospel by word and by actions (our life-style) to all those that we associate with: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”” <Matt. 28:19-20 (NIV)>: and as He taught His disciples, we must all be accountable to Him <Mk.6:30>, and our only hope of persevering in this world is to focus on Him only: “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house.” <Heb.3:1-2 (NIV)>; for in so doing we can declare “the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus” <2 Tim.1:1 (NIV); cf Jn.3:16; Eph.3:6; Tit.1:2; 1 Tim.6:19>.
Paul is thankful to God for Timothy and is constantly praying for him, and in this he is reminded of Timothy’s sincere faith that was seen first in his grandmother and then in his mother and “I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” <1:5 (NIV)>. It is this faith that strengthens all believers to persevere in our service for God.
As Paul continues to encourage Timothy (and all believers in Christ), he gives three commands that form the basis of our responsibility that will help us to persevere in our service <2 Tim.1:6-18>. First, “fan into flame the gift of God” <2 Tim.1:6 (NIV)>. Since our gifts are not fully developed when initially given to us, we need to develop them by using them – fanning the flame – “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” <2 Tim.1:7 (NIV)>; thus, we should not be ashamed or scared to use them for His glory <2 Tim.1:8; cf Rom.1:16>. Secondly, we should never be arrogant in our service but always keep in mind that what we have received and how we are to serve is “…not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” <2 Tim.1:9 (NIV)>. Grace that was given to us in Christ Jesus through His appearing as our Saviour, destroying death and bringing immortality to life through the gospel <2 Tim.1:9b-10>; reminding Timothy (and us) that preaching the gospel had caused his suffering <2 Tim.1:11-12a>. Third; although suffering as he was, he could say: “Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” <2 Tim.1:12 (NIV); cf 1 Pet.1:3-5>. The work that God has begun in us He will continue to do until it is completed at Christ’s second coming <Phil.1:6>.
Paul then completes Timothy’s responsibility by instructing him: “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you — guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” <2 Tim.1:13-14 (NIV)>. Follow the pattern of sound teaching; guard what has been entrusted to you (the gospel) – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit; a responsibility that should be the objective of all God’s servants! <see 2 Cor.4:17-18>.
“Recently I glimpsed the glory of finishing a task well. At Arlington National Cemetery, I saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. I had watched that ceremony several times before, always moved by its solemnity and precision.
This time, however, I witnessed something new. When the changing of the guard was completed, the commanding officer asked us to remain standing in silence. Sergeant Jennings had completed 27 months of this special duty and wanted now to pay his respect to the unknown soldiers. A guard escorted Jennings’ family to a place of honor.
The commanding officer handed Jennings four roses. Jennings approached the great Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the First World War, knelt, and placed a rose before it. Then he moved with solemn dignity to the tombs honoring unknown soldiers from the Second World War, and the wars in Korea and Vietnam, kneeling to place one red rose upon each. He returned to his commanding officer and stood before him. At attention, with their eyes locked, they shook hands. Then Sergeant Jennings carefully removed his white gloves and returned them, his work finished. He saluted his officer, greeted his family, and left.
With tears running down my face I thought of standing before my Lord Jesus someday, taking off my gloves and handing them to him.” (Citation: Harry J. Heintz; Troy, New York; “Finishing work on Earth”; (From Perfect Illustrations))