Justin Welby concludes his Study on the theme of 'coping with danger'
I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life— not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.
That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you— guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me.
May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus. (1 Tim 1:3 - 18)
Oh, the frustration! Why can’t Luke end a story properly? We are left with guesswork and legend. There is much argument about the author- ship of this second letter to Timothy, but I take it as Pauline, and the question is not for discussion here.
Paul strikes many different notes throughout these letters. There is a sense of finality, which we find here, a sense of passion to communicate what Timothy should do, and a somewhat weary familiarity with the ups and downs of betrayal and solidarity in times of danger. People do not always behave well when faced with danger. They kick and push to escape; they trample down the weak. They panic and become demand- ing, hysterical and unreasonable. They abandon those who need them, despite every promise to the contrary. How should we react to those who turn from us when we need them most? We may be ill and they do not visit, bereaved and they avoid writing or speaking, in prison and they are no longer our friends, disgraced and they join those who jeer and condemn. Paul remains what he has always been: he is grateful for what he has (v. 3).
During times of serious and intense illness and even the death of a child in our family, the act of giving thanks has been so hard, and yet, when managed in the most feeble way, so worthwhile. Paul gives thanks for a little—Timothy’s faithful family—but even that matters. He is clear about priorities: above all, to be unashamed of the gospel (v. 8). What a trial that can be, especially when the church is far from what it should be. He is clear about his calling and will not let regrets play in his mind (vv. 11–12), he is clear about the power of God (vv. 7, 14), and he is realistic. Admitting that one’s companions and friends have failed is hard, but he does it. Above all, he speaks of courage not as a posses- sion but as a gift of grace: ‘a spirit of power and of love, and of self- control’ (v. 7). The past is best handled when we allow that gift of grace to fill us anew, through worship and prayer and, often, through such means as the laying on of hands for healing.
Taken from Guidelines published by Bible Reading Fellowship. Purchase Guidelines from Eden.
(Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (Anglicised edition). Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton publishers. All rights reserved.)
February 11th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Ian Matthews