Be bold. Be strong. In Paul’s last letter, he seems to be passing on the mantle to Timothy and to the other young leaders in the Church. He knew he would die soon for the sake of the gospel and he wanted to encourage those who would still be around to continue the work – not in fear of persecution and death but with strength and power.
This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:6-7).
Paul used fire as an illustration of power. Have you ever watched a fire closely? We have all watched on the news as fire engulfed a car or a house or an entire community. Some fires are unquenchable and uncontainable. But if a fire runs out of what is fueling it, it will die out. The passion God places inside of us through His Holy Spirit is strong like a fire but also needs fueled or it will burn out. We have to purposefully keep the fire within us burning strongly.
So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time – to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News (2 Timothy 1:8-10).
Paul gave Timothy the illustration of fire and the example of Christ Jesus. He contrasts shame and strength, showing that God has called us to live boldly – not defeated by sin but overcoming it by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Christ died for us, which shows strength! Christ conquered death, which shows power! The strength Jesus displayed through His death and resurrection shines a light on the path before us that leads to life – eternal life through accepting the Good News of what Christ did for us on the cross.
That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.
Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me – a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you (1 Timothy 1:12-14).
The fire of the Spirit + the power of the cross = trust in God and a life shaped by our faith and love in Jesus. This kind of bold living is required in order to guard the truth that has been entrusted to us – meant not to hold on to secretly but to share for the sake of multiplication.
Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others (2 Timothy 2:1-2).
Paul doesn’t promise Timothy that this life will come without troubles but he directs Timothy to the authority of the One he is following and the reward that comes to those who are willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation to others and eternal glory in Christ Jesus.
Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor…
Always remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David, was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach. And because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained. So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen (2:3-6,8-10).
God, we ask for a refueling this morning of Your Spirit in our lives. Fan the flame and fill us with the confidence we receive in knowing that Christ died for us and conquered death so that we might live. May we be soldiers, enlisted by You for the cause of Christ. May we be athletes who throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and may we run this race with perseverance. As hardworking farmers, help us to sow seeds for you so that others will grow and come to know of the salvation they can find in You. Amen.