Summary: This sermon is aimed at younger people making a commitment to Christ and to the church.
“Making Commitments that Count”
Introduction: Today the word commitment is not a very popular one. People may be committed to their jobs, marriages, a church, an organization, to friendships --as long as things go well. But when circumstances change, the degree of commitment often changes too. Our scripture today talks about making commitments that count.
Paul, the apostle, is at a point in his life where he has preached faithfully for years, but he is now in prison and facing execution. He is in a cold, Roman prison, cut off from the world with just a visitor now and then and his books and writing materials. He is looking forward to seeing Timothy who is a young person who was Paul’s helper in the ministry. He would be passing to him the torch of leadership, and he wanted to be sure that Timothy’s commitment to Christ was a very strong one. He wanted to encourage Timothy in the faith. Paul wanted to warn Timothy of the opposition that he would face and even possible persecution and imprisonment. Because this is Paul’s last letter, he wanted to make sure that the message got through to Timothy and that his priorities were straight--that he had sound doctrine, steadfast faith, and confident endurance.
Timothy was in a time of transition in his life. He had been Paul’s helper up to this point, but soon he would be on his own as leader of a church in a very difficult environment. Would he be able to handle his new responsibilities? Was his commitment to Christ strong enough for him to stand up under whatever opposition came to him after Paul was no longer there? Paul hoped so.
1. Sincere Faith: Paul knew that Timothy had a SINCERE faith and that he had been surrounded by the Christian heritage of his grandmother, Lois, and his mother, Eunice.
Likewise today those of you who have gone through the confirmation studies have been surrounded by people of faith in this church--your parents, your mentors, and others who are cheering you on in your faith. You, however, like Timothy need to make a commitment that counts. One that is so strong that nothing will allow it to fall apart or become a low priority in your life.
Remember this day always as one in which you have said, “Yes” to following Jesus wholeheartedly. Never consider turning back on that promise. Although Timothy was a person of sincere faith, and he had made a good start, Paul knew that he was fearful and somewhat hesitant. It was this that he wanted to address. He said, “Timothy, I want to remind you to stir up the gift of God that is in you--fan into flame the gifts that are still undeveloped.”
STORY: During World War II when sugar was scarce a man went into a diner and asked for a cup of coffee.
“Sugar or cream, the waitress asked?”
“Sugar,” he replied. Since the sugar was so scarce, she kept it under the counter. The man put in 2 heaping teaspoons full of sugar, tasted it and said, “I need more sugar.”
The waitress set the sugar back up on the counter. He put in another heaping teaspoon. Tasted it and said, “Still not sweet enough. I need a little more.”
Disgusted, the waitress glared at him and said, “Stir up what you’ve already got!”
Paul was reminding Timothy that the gifts God had given him were there all along and that they needed to be cultivated and developed. He had the start of faith, but he needed to stir it up and grow it into strong faith.
And Paul went on to say, “You don’t have to worry. The Holy Spirit will help you out.” God has not given you the fear of people or fear of things that may surround you. He has instead given you a spirit of power, and love, and of self-discipline.
For us today this is also an encouragement to grow up in our faith. Be ready to step out to learn new things.
STORY: When I was in the first grade we made a clay picture and painted it. Mine was of a bird. My first grade art teacher told my Mother, “she has artistic talent.” I told someone years later, “I seem to do better with music than I do with art.” This person replied, “Maybe you haven’t developed your artistic talent like you have done your music.” I think that is right.
Let me encourage all of you to never quit growing in the Lord. Begin to serve the Lord in your youth group, begin to read and study your Bible, begin to pray for your friends at school, and be a witness to your faith. Make a commitment that counts as you go back to school this year. Live as a Christian should live and don’t back down. The Holy Spirit will give you the strength you need to live different from those who have not yet come to faith.