By Dr. Foster H. Shannon
We have family Bible study almost every Sunday evening after dinner. This coming Sunday, we are beginning with II Timothy, chapter 1. A passage in that chapter stands out for me:
Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control. Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner but take your share of suffering for the gospel in the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling,… (II Timothy 1:8,9)
What was it that struck me about this passage? It was Timothy’s position in the leadership of the church. He was Paul’s #2 man. He was a leader above many in the growing church. Here are some of them: Apollos, Archippus, Artemas, Barnabas, Epaphroditus, Luke, Onesimos, Priscilla & Aquila, Silas, Titus, Tychicus, and Zenas. There were others. Yet Timothy needed to be refreshed. He needed to be encouraged. We may find ourselves saying, Amen, recognizing that we need to be refreshed in the Lord. We should give priority to our Bible study and our prayer time.
Let us look at what Paul said to this valuable Christian leader:
- “Rekindle the gift of God that is within you.” Is this not a clear teaching here that believers can have times when they grow discouraged, and need to be invigorated?
- “Do not be ashamed of testifying to our Lord.” There are people who will put us down at any sign of our personal faith in Jesus Christ. Now, we do not have to shout or be irritating. Rather than being ashamed, we should be encouraged and devoted to our Savior. Explaining carefully, what Jesus means to you.
- “Take your share of suffering for the gospel.” It seems to me that we prefer to have things go well. We do not like difficulties. We want to avoid suffering, if we are able. I am not suggesting that we be ready to go out and suffer! Nonetheless, the Bible makes it clear that suffering will come our way, and do not be surprised, but it may turn out to be valuable.
Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (James 1:2)
What may seem to be unwelcome to us, may turn out to make us better people. Again, we read, Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12) Difficult times will come to all of us. Especially, when the difficulty arises to challenge our faithfulness to our Savior—by a clear and kind response, we can be an encouragement to others, and strengthened in our own faith. Unwelcome difficulties come into our lives, we can either cry or praise God. If we are moved to prayer we are thereby strengthened in our faith. One thing we know for sure. God will uphold us.
Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
Dr. Foster H. Shannon, Green Leaf Press