Summary: Do you face opposition in your life? Does it discourage you? Listen to Paul’s words of encouragement to a discouraged pastor and find hope.
Have you ever been ready just to give up - especially when it comes to serving the Lord. You’ve learned about Him, given your heart to Him, then stepped out either to hare the Lord with someone or in some kind of ministry and nothing seems to be going right. You are ready to throw in the towel and say "I’ve had enough."
Timothy is obviously upset about how things are going in Ephesus. In his second letter, the Apostle Paul encourages him in several ways:
- Have a clear conscience (vs 3) that you are doing the right thing just as those who came before me.
- (vs 4) I want you to think about us being together - filled with joy (look forward to that through your tears - even if it isn’t going to be till we get to heaven)
- (vs 5) You are a true believer (no matter what anyone says) and don’t forget those that came before you in that faith.
- Don’t let discouragement drown out the Spirit (vs 6)
- (vs 8) Don’t think of your situation as punishment but as an opportunity to suffer for Jesus with me.
- (vs 9) Because it’s not yours to decide what happens - everything is happening according to what the God you serve wants to happen.
- (vs 10) Remember that Jesus overcame every obstacle that faces you.
- (vs 11-12) And also know that the work you are doing is for Him and will stand in Him - no wasted effort.
- No matter what anyone says: don’t let go of what I shared with you in how to be a good pastor and help heal your flock (vs 13-14)
- (vs 15-18) I too have felt deserted like you - but although there are some who cause harm, there are also those who bring comfort - even as I am giving you comfort.
Chapter 2: Remember your place (you are a soldier) and remind your people of the truth
Chapter 3: Realize the times and the flesh of men, what they are capable of - but know that God will rescue you from them all.
Chapter 4: Be Ready - no matter what: preach the Word, keep your head, and come comfort me soon!
Paul is reaching out to his troubled protégé out of his own hardships and tears. This is a very personal letter - Paul opens up to Timothy about his own difficulties and how it makes him feel I think in an effort to identify with Timothy and let him know that despite the hardships he is trusting that God will deliver him.
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.
You can just picture Paul - two to four years after writing his first letter - in his Roman dungeon - on his knees, praying for Timothy. This letter contains the last words we have from Paul - written about 66 or 67AD.
This was Paul’s second imprisonment - and he knew that he was likely going to be executed - as part of a severe persecution from the Roman emperor Caesar Nero, who transferred blame from himself to Christians for a massive fire in Rome.
The persecution included social ostracism, public torture, and murder.
But Paul is not crying in his soup - he is praying for his son in the Lord - Timothy. Paul has far worse problems to worry about - his own life - but he is concerned about how this young man is faring in a church troubled by false doctrine and misbehavior.
Often times the best antidote to our own problems is to pray for someone else’s.
4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
This paragraph describes a man who has been beaten to a pulp by church difficulties. Many times we don’t realize how much pressure there is on church leaders. Timothy had even broken down and wept to Paul.