“Spirit Of Power”
Scripture Text: 2 Timothy 1:1-14
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with 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 ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am 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 the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
This letter which we assume was Paul’s second to his young protégé, was, according to the experts on the subject Paul’s last letter, written between 66 and 67 A.D. It was written from prison in Rome where he was awaiting his death at the hands of Emperor Nero. The first time Paul was imprisoned in Rome it was more like a house confinement. This time, he is actually in what we would think of as a prison. Nero had begun a major persecution in 64 A.D. as part of his plan to pass the blame for the great fire of Rome from himself to the Christians.
Paul begins by referring to Timothy as, “My dear son.” He was, of course, not Timothy’s father but this does indicate his love for his young disciple.
We have no record of Paul ever being married so Timothy wouldn’t have been his son. During my studies at Emory this was a point of contention in one of my New Testament courses. One of my fellow students said that there was a rule that in order to be considered a Pharisee you had to be married. Our professor sternly disagreed that there was such a rule.
But getting back to Paul never being married, some of you women may be thinking, “Who would want to be married to such a male chauvinist pig?” Yes, Paul said some things about women and their role when it came to the church. But in Paul’s defense, this was the tradition that he came from. Sort of like Jesus when He healed the ten lepers in Luke 17. He tells them to show themselves to the priests and as they went, they were healed. This was the tradition in Jesus’ time, when a leper was healed, he was sent to the priest to be confirmed clean. Paul was sticking to tradition just as Jesus was.
Paul writes about the great faith of Timothy’s mom, Eunice and his grandmother, Lois. And its important for us to remember that many of Paul’s most loyal disciples and followers were women; and much the same can be said about Jesus.
Paul is encouraging Timothy “To fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” We normally associate the Holy Spirt as a flame and also a gift from God. Paul is instructing Timothy to build an altar—collect some wood—and start a fire for the gospel of Jesus Christ, which was my prayer for those I laid hands on last Sunday.
And he’s encouraging Timothy to be bold, not timid, because he possesses a “Spirit of power of love and self-discipline.” I can think of a couple of reasons that Timothy may have been a little timid. First, we know that he’s still a young man leading others much older than himself (it can be difficult being a supervisor to those older than you—especially if you have been taught properly to respect your elders). There are some who think he may have still been a teenager at this point. And, maybe even more so, he was a half-breed. Remember, his mother was a faithful Jewess, but his father was a Greek (Acts 16:1).
I didn’t date much in high school. It wasn’t that I didn’t like girls. It was because I was afraid of rejection—and I still deal with that fear somewhat today. In some of my Scripture reading this week I came across the following text: “In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes” (Psalm 118:5-9).
Timothy could have used this advice. You can probably use this advice. If I would have had this advice in high school, it could have been, girls beware. I could have been a real stud muffin.
In my first appointment I received a phone call from a gentleman asking if I could come over to his house one Sunday afternoon because he had something he wanted to discuss with me. As we sat in his living room, he told me how he desired to become a member of the church, but he had one problem. I asked him what it was, and he said he didn’t feel worthy. My response, “Who of us really is?”
Maybe that’s the message Paul wants Timothy to get from this letter. To buck up his courage—to fan the flame—to set a fire down in his soul—to get excited about his role in the church. One thing is for sure—Paul never suffered from timidity—but he suffered and took great pride in doing so. Look back at how he opens this letter, “An apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus.” My friends, that’s you as well, you also are an apostle of Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus!
Finally, Paul writes about Timothy “Guarding the good deposit that was entrusted to you.” According to one of the commentaries I read on this Timothy is in a time of transition. To this point he’s been Paul’s bright young helper but soon he would be the leader of a church in a difficult environment. I feel you Timothy!
But even though things were changing for Timothy he was not without help—and neither are we. He, and we, have everything we need to face the future if we will hold on to the Lord’s resources and the Word of God.
It’s like the mountain man who left home and was gone for an entire week. When he got home his clothes were torn, his shoes were worn thin, and it was obvious that he was exhausted. His wife put her hands on her hips and said, “Where in tarnation have you been?”
“I went out to the woods to check on the still,” said the mountain man, “and a giant bear stepped out in front of me. I took off running and finally lost him. I never ran so fast in my life!” But that was a week ago,” said the wife. “Where have you been since?” “I’ve been walking back,” he said.
Now, chances are slim that you will run into a bear when you leave here this morning but if you do being scared is justified. But being timid or hesitant when it comes to sharing your faith is not justified. St. Francis is famous for saying, “Preach the Gospel often and use words if you have to.”
So, we have these words to Timothy from Paul, “What you heard from me, keep as a 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 you.”