Daily D – 2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 TIMOTHY 1:7 (NLT)
“Every text has a context.” The professor’s words echo across the decades. This is one of those verses often excised from its context because it can be useful for encouraging people who tend to take a step back when challenges come. But let’s take a look at it in context and see what we find.
This is the Apostle Paul’s second letter to his son in the ministry, Timothy. Timothy was a young man when Paul wrote to him the first time. He repeatedly calls Timothy, “My true child in the faith,” and “My son.” He tells him not to “let anyone think less of you because you are young,” (4:12).
Timothy is no longer Little Timmy at this writing. He is a man who has served long and well in connection with Paul’s work around the Mediterranean. We see his name pop up in Paul’s writings on several occasions. Tim is no longer wet behind the ears. He is a seasoned pro.
Even seasoned professionals, top-level practitioners require encouragement now and again. Reassessment happens at certain stages of life whether or not we anticipate it. Paul had been there and done that and had seen others go through such times. Now he guides Tim through this passage.
Paul reminds him of where he came from. He recalled the firm ground of faith Timothy inherited from his grandmother and mother (v. 5). What was true of these two exemplary women was true of him. He had a strong faith. Paul reminds him of how the Spirit of God empowered him for the work he had called and equipped him to do.
On the basis of this strong faith and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, Paul tells Timothy that whatever fear and intimidation he felt, it did not come from God. God’s gifts for him included power equal to or greater than whatever task he placed before him. God’s gifts also included love that seeks the highest and best for everyone. God’s gifts also included the self-discipline to get on task and to stay there.
In other words, Paul told Timothy, “Live what you say you believe, what you know to be true, and what brings about grace, mercy, and peace for all people everywhere.”
John 1:17 says, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ,” (ESV). Living what we say we believe, what we know to be true includes both grace and truth. We need to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 1:15). We need to extend God’s offer of saving and keeping grace.
We hear people crying out for grace and truth in our cultural climate right now. The many voices use words like justice, fairness, equality, and safety, but do not miss the fact that what most people long for is grace and truth.
What would Paul say to us in our cultural moment? He might tell us to confidently step into this season with the positive alternative of grace, mercy, and truth. Grace that saves, delivers, and heals. Mercy that expresses God’s love for all people everywhere. Truth that points us in the right direction and out of the malaise and misery our sin has created.
This is a gift worth fanning into flame in our homes, our workplaces, our communities, and our world. The cameras and microphones may not point toward you, but everywhere you go people need God’s grace and God’s truth. God wants you to deliver these gifts in whatever package size persons can receive at the moment.
This is no time for intimidation or exasperation. This is a time for God’s people to live at maximum expression of grace, mercy, truth, power, love, and self-discipline. Step up and lead the way!
I will live a life of maximum expression of grace and truth.
Our Father, empower me with your Holy Spirit. Enrich me with your boundless love. Lead me to get on task and to stay there as I join you in creating a positive alternative to this cultural moment. May your kingdom come and your will be done in my life, in this world as it is in heaven. Amen.
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Leviticus 19:32-34 “Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the Lord. “Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
Luke 6:27-31 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.”