Reading for Monday, Dec 24: 2 Timothy 1
The letters to Timothy and Titus are known as the Pastoral Letters of Paul, designated as such because rather than being written to specific churches (as with “Galatians” or the letters to the “Corinthians”), these letters are written to specific church leaders.
In this letter, Paul writes to Timothy, his “beloved child” (v2). Paul encourages Timothy to continue to unlock the treasure chest of blessing in his life: “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control,” (v6-7). There is gift and there is grace; but there is also a responsibility to steward these gifts, to fan into flame the gift of God. God has uniquely gifted us with talents and attributes, but we are responsible for wielding these gifts in service to the Kingdom.
Paul’s tone is triumphant, even as he nears the end of his life. But here we find the depth of Paul’s faith, for his boasting has never been in his own works, but rather in the tremendous power of God to work redemption through broken vessels. It is by the power of God that Paul is able to stand up under suffering (v8). This God “saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,” (v9). In all of this, Paul reminds us to not be ashamed (v8). We have to remember that in Paul’s day, Christianity was not yet “respectable”. Jesus had died a criminal’s death on the cross, an enemy of the state. But Paul sees a future day of vindication for the people of God, a day that causes him to say, “I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me,” (v12).
Until that Day comes, we have “the Holy Spirit who dwells within us” to “guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” May we not be ashamed.