As Paul draws his first letter to Timothy to a close he gives his son in the faith a closing exhortation and challenge. He wants to challenge Timothy but also wants to encourage him. He says to him, “You, man of God” [verse 11]. Those words must have sounded like music to Timothy. The phrase “man of God” would be very meaningful to Timothy, because it was the Old Testament term for a prophet [1 Samuel 9:6; 1 Kings 12:22; 13:1, etc.]. All of us need this kind of positive affirmation at different times.
I remember many years ago that Robert Fergusson and I were sharing in the family evening devotions in a home in Jakarta. There were two sons, one of them named Jephthah. Robert suddenly went across to him and said, “You mighty man of valour,” quoting the words of the Angel of the Lord, spoken to Gideon in the Old Testament [Judges 6:12]. Gideon was a timid man who struggled with fear and that word empowered him. In a similar way Jephthah was empowered by that word of encouragement and affirmation and went on to achieve great things for God.
Having encouraged and affirmed Timothy, Paul closes with a reminder and a challenge. He reminds Timothy of his good confession [verse 12]. This was possibly a reference to his baptism, but could also refer to Timothy’s good testimony and stand for the faith. In the light of this confession Paul challenges Timothy to keep doing what he is doing:
Keep Striving for Righteousness [verse 11]. Note the urgency of the words “flee” and “pursue.” We are to flee from evil, and in this context from those who are corruptly using religion to make themselves rich. Note carefully the things that Paul says we should pursue – righteousness, a godly life, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness [NLT]. This is basic to Christian living!
Keep fighting the fight of faith [verse 12]. The tense of the word fight here means literally “keep fighting.” We are in a battle but there is a crown of life awaiting those who are faithful!
Keep looking to Jesus’ Coming [verse 13-16]. Keep your eyes on the finishing line and the Saviour who is waiting there to greet you. It has variously been suggested that verses 15-16 were part of an early baptismal confession [see verse 12] or possibly a hymn sung in the early church. It is a wonderful description of God, and His Son, our Lord Jesus.
Keep guarding what God has given you [verse 20]. We must the guard truth of the Gospel that has been entrusted to the church and its leaders. It is the truth that the church must hold to as Satan seeks to dilute the church through false teachers and false teaching.
Why is it important that we affirm and encourage people who are serving God? Who have you spoken encouragement and affirmation to in the past week?
Which of the four challenges that Paul gave to Timothy most challenges you personally? Why is this the case, and what do you intend to do about it?
I have been writing daily for the past 10 months, and in order to remain fresh and continue to write in the coming months, I am going to take six weeks’ break. I will be preparing future devotional words for the blog during this time and also taking a holiday with my wife.
In our home church, Kerith Community Church, we have some very gifted writers. I have asked six of these to write a devotional word for the blog each Friday over the next six weeks. Please continue to follow and be blessed.
I look forward to being with you again on Monday, October 12th as we continue with Paul’s very personal second letter to Timothy. It is the last recorded writing that we have of Paul.