Bible Reading: Acts 19:21-41
The primary reason why Paul wrote to Timothy was to encourage him. His letters are full of encouragement for a young Christian worker who was facing many difficulties.
Ephesus was not any easy place for a Christian to live or to serve the Lord. Paul had a remarkable ministry in Ephesus, and the church had grown dramatically. It is never easy to succeed someone who has been successful, because people will always make comparisons! Let’s be honest about it, church is not always an easy place to work, or even feel at home in!
People have different agendas. Very often people in church have come from hurting and broken backgrounds and although in the process of being healed are often fragile and the old adage that hurt people hurt people is very real. Our son didn’t like church very much when he was younger, and would say to me, “I have no problem with Jesus but I don’t like church! We are so grateful that although he struggled with church, the Lord still had His hand on him.
There was another reason why it was tough for Timothy. There were powerful demonic forces at work in Ephesus. It was a centre of idolatry and the worship of Diana. Diana was the Roman name of Artemis, the Greek goddess of love and fertility and the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. We can feel something of the emotion against Christians in our reading today. People who profited from making shrines of Diana were angry because their livelihood was being threatened [verses 23-27] and they started a riot.
In addition to this, Ephesus was full of sexual immorality and temple prostitution, and Timothy was young and single. Can you sense the struggle that Timothy might be going through – struggling with the church, in a demonically charged atmosphere and surrounded by immorality. It is little wonder that Paul told Timothy to “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” [2 Timothy 2:22], and to remain loyal to the faith [2 Timothy 1:13-14].
Why do you think that God allowed Timothy to be placed in such a difficult situation where he would face strong temptation?
What promise does God in 1 Corinthians 10:13 to those who are tempted?
Why is encouragement such an important part of ministry in the body of Christ? Encouragement is a choice – why not choose to encourage someone today?
Have you recently been tempted to give up because the way has been too difficult or people have been unkind? Ask God to strengthen and help you.