Summary: Writing his final letter, while facing execution, Paul was not defeated. He had not abandoned the faith. His final instruction was given to his son in the faith, Timothy. Paul longed for Timothy to follow his lead and remain steadfast in the faith.
The Strategy for Success
2 Timothy 2: 1-6
Our text today comes from the last letter the Apostle Paul would write. At this moment, Paul is very near the end of life. He is confined within the Roman Mamertine prison, awaiting his execution. Paul’s final days are lived in the shadow of the executioner’s axe, knowing he will soon give his life for the faith.
As Paul penned this last epistle, many thoughts weighed heavy on his mind. He greatly missed his son in the faith, Timothy. The church was growing rapidly, and Paul felt the need to address church organization, continued doctrinal purity, and guidance for daily Christian life. Paul was also aware of the dangers of false teaching, which had become prevalent within the modern culture, and was finding its way into the church. Knowing his time was limited, Paul desired to leave final instruction for the young pastor he loved, and the church at large, to which he had committed his life.
Although Paul had been sentenced to death for preaching the Gospel, this was not a letter of resignation or defeat. In fact, it is a letter of encouragement and admonition for believers to remain steadfast in the faith, continuing to share the Gospel throughout the world.
Over the next few weeks, I want to journey through specific portions of this final letter, and examine the final instructions Paul left for Timothy. No doubt, this instruction will prove beneficial in our Christian lives as well. Today, as we discuss the expectations revealed within the text, I want to consider: The Strategy for Success. This first expectation was for Timothy to:
I. Be Strong in the Faith (1-2) – As we examine these verses, we will discover the varied aspects of Christian service. Paul likened our commitment to the Lord, in service to Him, as a teacher, a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. As a teacher, Paul knew Timothy must be strong in the faith. Consider:
A. His Position (1) – Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Timothy was not Paul’s biological son, but he was his son in the faith. Paul loved him dearly, and expressed his great love for him in this letter. Paul in no way implied that his relationship with Timothy exceeded Timothy’s relationship with Christ, but he did offer a reminder of his association with the apostle. Timothy had a great mentor in Paul; he had gained much from Paul’s wisdom and guidance. Paul had invested greatly in this young pastor. He had been left with a legacy of faithfulness, and Paul wanted Timothy to remain committed to the truths he had instilled in him.
Again, I want to emphasize that no relationship exceeds a personal relationship with Christ. Knowing and fellowshipping with strong believers cannot guarantee our salvation. However, like Timothy, my life has been influenced by others who were committed to Christ. They have invested much in me. I feel an obligation to continue in the faith and honor their investment. I want to honor the Lord, as well as, their commitment to the Lord.
B. His Possession (1) – Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Paul well understood the difficulty of serving the Lord in their current environment. While there was great reward, and the church was growing, there was also much opposition. Most in places of authority and power were not receptive to the Gospel. Paul knew Timothy would face opposition and persecution for the faith. He encouraged him to be strong in the grace available through Christ Jesus. Regardless what he faced, Timothy would never be alone. The grace provided through Christ would be sufficient to endure any difficulty. He must remain focused on what he possessed in Christ, instead of focusing on the opposition from the world.
In America, we know little about real persecution for our faith. However, society as a whole is becoming less tolerant and receptive to the Gospel. Many are opposed to public proclamation of the Gospel. Some would like to censor the pulpits in America, deeming certain passages and topics offensive and therefore unacceptable to preach, even within the church. When faced with the opposition that will eventually come, we too must be strong in the grace available through Christ our Lord. He will provide sufficient grace to endure any difficulty!
C. His Commission (2) – And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Paul understood the principle Jesus taught in the gospels – the fields were white unto harvest, but the laborers were few. The church was growing, and yet there were many who had yet to hear the good news of the glorious Gospel. Paul had invested in Timothy; he was well trained and prepared for the work of ministry. Timothy now had an obligation to share the truths of the faith with others, training them to take the Gospel to others. Paul knew disciples must in turn make disciples if the Gospel was to prosper.