“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
Is it possible to be scared to death? During the January 17, 1994 earthquake that hit the Los Angeles/Northridge area, over 100 people literally died of fright, according to Robert Kloner, cardiologist at the Good Samaritan Hospital in L.A. His research has shown that excessive fear can cause sudden cardiac death. In many cases, the terrorized brain triggers the release of a mix of chemicals so potent it causes the heart to contract so fiercely it never relaxes again. Sounds like one do-zee of a Charlie horse, don’t it? Guess this may be why Paul needed Timothy to be strengthened in his faith before he took over the church in Ephesus.
Because Timothy comes from a heritage of faith, a faith he personally possesses, Paul also encourages him to use his spiritual gift in his work at Ephesus. Throughout 2 Timothy 1:5-14 Paul will weave different themes together, all intended to encourage Timothy. As Paul should know, the Ephesians were passionate about their goddess (Diana) and the business of selling her effigies to this phony goddess’ believers. But before I end up slamming a group of people I’ve never met, let’s look at five things we can glean from this passage of Scripture.
- Paul identifies himself with Timothy. Paul was with Timothy when Timothy received his gift [“the gift of God.”] The plural “us” continually associates the two: God gave us a spirit of power and saved us not because of our works, but because of his grace; the Holy Spirit too lives in us. Just as God gave Paul a spirit of power, called him to suffer without shame for the gospel, saved him to a life of holiness as a teacher of that gospel, and gave him the assurance that he would keep Paul safe, so also God has done, and will do, the same for Timothy.
- Paul calls Timothy not to be ashamed of the gospel or of Paul himself (v 8). Paul is fully convinced that God can keep him safe and is therefore not ashamed (v 12), and neither should Timothy be.
- Paul encourages Timothy by calling him to share with him in suffering for the gospel (v 8); Timothy’s suffering is not simply to be endured or viewed as a deterrent.
- Paul reminds Timothy that God has not abandoned him in Ephesus, but rather will empower him to do the work. The call to suffer with Paul for the gospel is “according to the power of God” (v 8), the same power that can keep Paul’s “deposit” safe until judgment day (v 12). Likewise, as Timothy guards what God has given to him, he is to do this not in his own power but through the Holy Spirit that lives in him (v 14).
- Finally, the description of the gospel itself serves as an encouragement to Timothy. The gospel to which Timothy is called to suffer and of which he is not to be ashamed is the very gospel that declares the salvation of God and a call to obedience, based not on human merit but on God’s grace, the possession of which was Timothy’s before time but is now revealed through Christ. No matter how difficult the situation becomes in Ephesus, Timothy can draw encouragement from a proper understanding of the gospel message.
Verses 6-14 not only afford a personal look into Paul’s heart and his relationship with Timothy, but also provide a paradigm of the nature of Christian encouragement. Timothy is to hold fast to Paul’s gospel, characterized not by bitterness and quarreling but by faith and love. Since God can guard what Paul (and Timothy) has entrusted to him, Timothy should be able to guard what God has entrusted to Timothy, as always, through the power God gives him by the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes we can find ourselves in “earthquake” moments but with the “Pauls” in our lives, we can endure attacks to our faith a lot easier than if we just went on our strength. It is my hope that you have been encouraged to day to seek out a Paul as a go to in your daily walk. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris is a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003), is married to his wife Kathy, has two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.
Daily Quote: “The Christian doctrine is a trust committed to us; it is of unspeakable value in itself, and will be of unspeakable advantage to us. It is committed to us, to be preserved pure and entire, yet we must not think to keep it by our own strength, but by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us; and it will not be gained by those who trust in their own hearts, and lean to their own understandings.” — Matthew Henry
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
“that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious that gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:7