II Timothy 1:7 Fearless

Some of you don’t like confrontation. Rather than stand up to someone and tell them that you disagree with them, or that they are overstepping their boundaries, you allow other people to have their way, and sometimes to step all over you. I know because I’ve been there too. There is a delicate balance here. How do you maintain reasonable boundaries, or stand up for what you believe in without becoming argumentative or stirring up unnecessary discord?

The Apostle Paul was an example of someone who stood up for what he believed and was willing to speak his mind. And he encouraged others to do the same, including through correspondence to his young friend Timothy, part of which is found in II Timothy 1. Timothy was timid and quite possibly discouraged by all the opposition that both he and Paul were facing, but if he was going to assist Paul in sharing the gospel he would need to learn to speak up with confidence. That doesn’t mean that he needed to be loud and obnoxious and to shout down anyone who disagreed with him as, sadly, some today are in the habit of doing. He needed not only to set aside his spirit of fear, but also to take on the spirit of love and a sound mind—self-control. (II Timothy 1:7) We are all called to love our neighbour, (Galatians 5:14, Mark 12:31, Matthew 19:19) and to be ambassadors of Christ’s love, (II Corinthians 5:19-20) even with people that we find unpleasant, or wrong.

God has a unique purpose for each of us, but all of us have the responsibility to glorify God in everything that we do, and to share His love and gift of salvation with others. There will undoubtedly be times when we will encounter people who will disagree with us, sometimes vehemently. When this happens, I suggest to you as Paul did to Timothy, (II Timothy 1:6) to rekindle the gifts given to you through the Spirit. You can do this through prayer, Bible reading and study, and by finding some mentors who are strong in their faith to encourage you. Don’t be wishy-washy about what you believe in, but make sure that God’s love is evident in you when you share it.

I Timothy 4:12 Let Your Character Speak For Itself

Have you heard of Jack Andraka? Jack is currently doing research that will make testing for certain kinds of cancer, particularly pancreatic cancer, simpler, faster, less expensive, and perhaps most importantly, more accurate. He has sent proposals to hundreds of professors giving them details of his research and asking for permission to use their labs to conduct his experiments. Only one response to him was positive. Realistically, one can’t expect to receive completely positive responses, even if your research, like Jack’s, is ground-breaking. But Jack has received more than his fair share of rejections. Why? Because he is 15 years old. When he arrives at conferences, others assume that he is a speaker’s son who is just tagging along. Then he gets up to speak. Afterwards, the conversations change, because people then judge him for what he knows, not for how long he has lived.

Timothy was in a similar situation when Paul gave him this advice: Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young. (I Timothy 4:12) Now, Timothy was certainly not a teenager. All of the experts estimate that he was somewhere in his thirties, but in that society anyone under the age of 40 was considered young. And Timothy was certainly young compared to Paul and to the other Christians that he would be leading. The advice Paul gave, however, would apply to anyone of any age. Essentially Paul told Timothy not to let others judge him based on his age, but based on his words and actions. Paul instructed Timothy to set an example for other believers by living a life in which his speech, conduct, love, faithfulness and purity could not be criticized.

This is advice that we should all take. Live your life such that no one can find anything bad to say about you, and so that the message of God will not be discredited. (Titus 2:4-8) Spend time studying God’s word so that you know what that message truly is. Let everyone around you see the progress you are making. (I Timothy 4:15) Let your good character shine through. Let the life you live through your words and actions be a good representation of God’s love and grace.

II Timothy 1:7 Fearless

Some of you don’t like confrontation. Rather than stand up to someone and tell them that you disagree with them, or that they are overstepping their boundaries, you allow other people to have their way, and sometimes to step all over you. I know because I’ve been there too. There is a delicate balance here. How do you maintain reasonable boundaries, or stand up for what you believe in without becoming argumentative or stirring up unnecessary discord?

The Apostle Paul was an example of someone who stood up for what he believed and was willing to speak his mind. And he encouraged others to do the same, including through correspondence to his young friend Timothy, part of which is found in II Timothy 1. Timothy was timid and quite possibly discouraged by all the opposition that both he and Paul were facing, but if he was going to assist Paul in sharing the gospel he would need to learn to speak up with confidence. That doesn’t mean that he needed to be loud and obnoxious and to shout down anyone who disagreed with him as, sadly, some today are in the habit of doing. He needed not only to set aside his spirit of fear, but also to take on the spirit of love and a sound mind—self-control. (II Timothy 1:7) We are all called to love our neighbour, (Galatians 5:14, Mark 12:31, Matthew 19:19) and to be ambassadors of Christ’s love, (II Corinthians 5:19-20) even with people that we find unpleasant, or wrong.

God has a unique purpose for each of us, but all of us have the responsibility to glorify God in everything that we do, and to share His love and gift of salvation with others. There will undoubtedly be times when we will encounter people who will disagree with us, sometimes vehemently. When this happens, I suggest to you as Paul did to Timothy, (II Timothy 1:6) to rekindle the gifts given to you through the Spirit. You can do this through prayer, Bible reading and study, and by finding some mentors who are strong in their faith to encourage you. Don’t be wishy-washy about what you believe in, but make sure that God’s love is evident in you when you share it.

I Timothy 6:18 Goodness

Yesterday, at about 4:00 p.m. a tornado ripped through the town of Goderich, Ontario. It was the most severe tornado to hit the province since 1996. Goderich, situated on the shores of Lake Huron, is known as the prettiest town in Canada. (This designation stems from a comment made by Queen Victoria on the basis of a relative’s description.) The tornado touched down, and devastated, the historic town square. ‘The Square’, which is in fact an octagon, is notable because it was actually built with a plan; it didn’t just happen by chance as many towns did. Most of the buildings in the square still date from the 1800s, except that now many of them are missing walls and roofs.

I am sharing this news with you to make two points.
1. Life, and all the material possessions you hold dear, can change in an instant. The tornado in Goderich was over in a matter of seconds.
2. There is always someone in need that you can be good to.
In I Timothy 6:18, Paul instructs Timothy to tell the people, those who are rich in this world’s goods, (I Timothy 6:17) to do good and to be rich in good deeds. Be generous and share with others.

Thankfully when natural disasters occur, people are usually very generous with donations of money, food and clothing, sometimes overwhelmingly so. It seems odd to hear agencies such as the Red Cross tell donors to stop giving, that they have enough, but it has happened. What is less common is for people to keep giving when the big news story leaves the headlines. Goderich’s historic town square, like all the other places that have been hit by tornadoes, earthquakes or tsunamis, will not quickly be rebuilt. And there are a lot of people in your own community who need someone to be good to them too. A single mom who needs help with child care. Those who have been hurt or who have had surgery who need help with household chores or yard work. The student who needs help with his math homework. The elderly person who could use a ride to the grocery store. The man who has lost his job but still needs to feed his family.

John Wesley said, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

Look around you. What good can you do?

I Timothy 4:7 Friday the 13th

It’s Friday the 13th. Do you believe that that means you will have bad luck today? Do you avoid going out in public or trying anything new because of the date? Now, I don’t want to criticize you if you just joke about things like that, but there are people who seriously believe that Friday the 13th means bad luck, just as it is bad luck to let a black cat cross your path, or to walk under a ladder. To be honest, it is probably good advice not to walk under a ladder, but not because it will bring bad luck, just because it is safer that way.

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy, (I Timothy 4:1-7) he warns Timothy to be aware of false teaching, and instructs him to focus on the truth. These days truth is seen as a relative thing—what is the truth for me might not be the truth for you—but this is not the way God sees it. Paul encouraged Timothy to focus on God’s truth, and to reject anything that did not agree with it, including “myths fit only for the godless and the gullible”. (I Timothy 4:7) In the New International Version, this verse reads, “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.”

When Paul wrote to Timothy he discussed the issues of marriage and of restricting oneself from eating certain foods because those were the issues that were current and relevant to the people that Timothy was teaching. But Paul’s words apply to everything. All things created by God are good (Genesis 1), and we are to receive them all with thankfulness. God created the days by separating light from darkness, (Genesis 1:4-5) and in that way today is just like any other–neither good nor bad in and of itself.

A friend of mine got married on a Friday the 13th several years ago. Many of her friends and acquaintances asked her why she would want to get married on that date; wouldn’t it be better to get married on a date that wouldn’t bring bad luck? My friend decided that it was even more important to get married on that date (besides that the timing was good for her and her husband-to-be) because it was a chance to tell people about her beliefs. She believes in a God who is in control of the universe, and although there might be bad things that happen in the world, it is not because of luck, but because we live in a world where good battles evil. Don’t give in to the evil; focus on God’s truth. Enjoy this day and all the blessings that God has for you in it.

II Timothy 1:7

There are so many scary things happening in our world lately: earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes erupting, civil wars, governments being overthrown…. It is not surprising that people would be afraid, but the encouragement of II Timothy 1:7 came to my mind. I think we need to understand what is meant by fear in this verse. There is certainly a place for being cautious when we are facing dangerous situations, but we also need to be brave and trust in God’s power. Words like “Fear not” and “Be strong and courageous” are used often throughout the Bible. (Matthew 14:27, Luke 1:30, John 6:20, Jeremiah 1:8, Deuteronomy 31:23, I Corinthians 16:13)

When Paul wrote to Timothy, it was not in the context of natural disasters or political upheaval; he was exhorting him and encouraging him not to be timid or cowardly when facing people who would disagree with his ministry. In II Timothy 1:5 Paul expresses his confidence in Timothy’s faith, then in II Timothy 1:6 reminds him to make use of the gifts that God has given him. Paul knew that the spirit of fear did not come from God. This wasn’t just a theory for Paul; he had been through enough trials (II Corinthians 11:24-33) that it would have been perfectly understandable for him to be afraid. Instead he relied on the power of God.

You, too, have access to God’s power. That doesn’t mean that you won’t face hardships; it means that you have a source of strength and courage to get through them. If God has called us to do something, He will give us everything we need to do it. (Philippians 4:13). He desires for us to rely on Him. (Psalm 27:14) As Paul told Timothy, there is no need to be afraid.