It is nice to know that people in the Bible were normal. I mean, this book describes some of the worst moments of the characters, as well as the best. When I was younger I liked to imagine myself as the character in my favorite novel…except I wanted to skip some parts. Now, reading the Bible, I am just glad to recognize that I’m not the only one who struggles.
It is a little scary to be set free to pursue your dreams. What if you do not have any at the moment, or they seem to blow away a little too fast to catch? Maybe you have all of the potential and none of the desire, or you have the blueprints for a great plan in your messenger bag and all you lack is money. Oh yeah, bills. Yay. Or the plan is underway, and now you have to figure out how to pull it off…like life-decision juggling. Coordination, don’t fail me now!
Paul was writing to someone in a similar boat when he penned 1 Timothy. Timothy had been his protege, his padawan, his brilliant intern for many years. And now he was off leading his own church in Ephesus. And apparently he was feeling the effects of being young, responsible for many, and far from his former mentor. So Paul sent him a letter:
“2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine,4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies… 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. ” (2 Timothy 1:2-5).
Paul called Timothy to be a strong helmsman to guide the Ephesus church away from false teaching. The law was not meant for endless discussion and debate, but to point out sins, followed by the saving strength of the gospel. And Paul knew what kind of grace was available, since he was a living example of someone totally changed by God’s love. No one was too far from grace, and that was the point! Praise God for what He can do through sinners! So, since you are a sinner saved by grace:
“18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” (2 Timothy 1:18-20).
That’s where we can stand. If we are fighting, trusting God, and serving Him one step at a time, then we are doing what we can. We will not be able to change everyone’s mind, and they may crash and sink. That is not our responsibility. If our goal is to serve God where He has put us, with the gifts we have been given, then we are steering the right direction!
God, thank You for the grace You have given to me as a sinner. And I have many gifts from You, as well as guidance from those older and wiser in the faith. But I am scared, like Timothy, of royally messing up and bringing other people down with me. What do they think? Am I doing it right? Nothing seems to be changing…I understand his fears. But no one is too far outside of grace that You cannot reach them, and sometimes You use people like me who are never as ready as they would like to go out and touch lives. So please give me courage for this journey. Please help me learn from Paul like Timothy, and thank You for the grace You have given me! To You be the glory, Amen.