Peninsula Community Church
Timothy: A Model of Spiritual Success
November 1, 2015
2 Timothy 1:3-7 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 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 gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self.
This week I want to piggy back on what Ray spoke about last week. I want to speak on the value of living a life that can be emulated by others. In the passage, before us, one of the first things we see is that Paul recognizes Timothy’s sincere faith. Depending on the version or translation of the text you have, you may find a couple of different words used. You may find the word sincere, genuine, or the word unfeigned used. Regardless of the word, the word comes from the theater or play acting. You see in those days, as in the days of Shakespeare, actors would play roles by wearing masks. They would hide behind masks and become someone different as they would role play a character. No one would know the real person behind the mask.
Yesterday was Halloween and people dressed up in costumes and portrayed some of their favorite characters. For some people, this was more than an opportunity to dress up like their specific character, they also began to emulate that character and take on the life of that character. The whole idea of dressing up is to become your favorite character and take on that persona for the day.
I can remember that when I was in college we would do two to three major productions a year. In most of the productions I had bit parts. One thing I noticed was that as soon as I stepped into character I became that person. But once the acting was over I reverted to being me. In Paul’s observation of Timothy’s life, Paul witnessed that Timothy’s faith was genuine and sincere. Paul was saying that he did have to wear a mask to hide his true identity.
Paul is saying, Timothy you are the genuine deal. You do not have to play act or pretend to be someone or something you are not. In this specific case, Timothy did not have to pretend to be a Christian. He was a believer and there was no doubt about it based on Paul’s observations in regard to Timothy’s life. Timothy was a genuine follower of Christ. With that in mind, let me ask you “what story would be told of your life if someone were to write a book about you? Would they see you as the genuine deal.” Notice that Paul did not say perfect or sinless. He said genuine. Timothy’s faith was real and he had a genuine understanding of himself and his circumstances.
But where does this genuineness come from to live such a life? From the scripture, we find that Timothy was emulating the faith found in his grandmother and his mother. They instilled in him the faith he needed to live a genuine life. Last week Ray challenged us to leave a legacy and to reach out to others who need hope and faith. This is once again illustrated by the passage before us today. It is not real clear how Lois and Eunice did this, but we know they did it because it forever impacted Timothy’s life and would eventually effect many generations to come. I do believe they lived a life worth emulating and they pointed Timothy to the Scriptures.
Whatever the process used, we know that Paul charges Timothy to continue in what he had learned and to continue in what he had believed. Listen to Paul’s words But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15). There are three things in this passage that are striking to me. First, Paul challenges Timothy to continue in what he has already learned. This implies that he learned something and what he learned was good. The second point is that Paul challenges Timothy to continue in what he believes. In other words, don’t allow the societal sway of passivity and the itching ears of those to whom he was ministering to cause him to drift from the truth or from what he had learned. The third point here is that Paul reminds Timothy not to forget where he received his knowledge of Christ and faith. His mother and grandmother had influenced him and had effected his life in ways he could not have imagined.
That applies to us as well. First, we must have a knowledge of God and we must have an understanding of our faith. We must hold onto that faith and not be swayed by those around us who desire to compromise the truth or those who seek an easy way of life. The second thing is that we have to remember those who have impacted our lives. Who lead you to Christ and who helped to disciple you the most? It may be a Lois or a Eunice or it may be someone else.
For me, as a young boy growing up, I am reminded of my grandmother’s faith. It is my belief that I am what I am today in large part to my grandmother’s faith, love, and prayer. When I was about one years old my mom dropped me off at my grandmother’s house and left town to find herself. She had become pregnant again and gave that daughter up for adoption. I lived with my grandmother McIlwain for five years. While living with her, she could be found every morning with her Bible open on the kitchen table where she would be reading and studying the word of God. She did this not to check off of a list of things to do, but because she recognized the power of the gospel in her life.
Secondly, throughout the day she modeled the lifestyle of guinness and faithfulness to Christ. Everyone loved my grandmother. Everyone spoke of how she was genuine and how she exuded the power of Christ’s love through her life. Third, she was faithful to her church. Each Sunday she would make sure that we were in church even if we walked from our house down to the church which was three to four miles away. I still remember the church’s name. It was Progress Assembly of God in Buckatunna, Mississippi. I also remember my grandmother would kneel by her bedside at night where she would specifically pray for her children, their spouses, and her grandchildren. I can remember being in the other room and I would hear her pray for me. She would lift my name to God and would pray for my protection and for God’s calling on my life.
My grandmother was faithful even when she faced difficulty in her life. My grandfather died in 1964 and left her to raise me by herself. We lived in a small four room house that had no heat or running water. We used a well outside. I remember going with my grandmother once a month to pick up the government food at the commissary. We would get a brown bag of rice, flour, sugar, some cheese, and some can goods. We did not have a lot but we had one another and she had her faith.
There is a third element in this passage that is important to this discussion. Paul exhorts Timothy to fan into flame the gift of God which had been given to him by the laying on of hands. Paul challenged Timothy to keep his faith ignited and not ever let it die out. To be clear, we do not know what the specific gift is that Paul is referring to. Because of the context of this passage and others in the wirings of Paul to Timothy I wonder if it was not a reference to the work of salvation in Timothy’s heart. Paul is exhorting Timothy not to forget what has been done in his life, who was responsible for that work, and what he is to do with what he has been given. In that, he was reminded to keep the flame of salvation burning in his heart. Let me ask you, have you ever felt that the flame of your salvation was not burning as brightly as it was at one time. Paul recognized the truth that we do ebb and flow in our walk before Christ. We must therefore keep the flame stoked or it will die out.
Why was this important? If we look at this scripture in the context of the rest of the book, we will see that Paul had a two-fold reason for writing this letter to Timothy. He was encouraging him to stand against the tests that would come. Paul encouraged him not to compromise the gospel message and to be planted on the unmovable and unshakeable truth of Christ. He was not to walk in fear no matter what was to come his way. Paul had prophesied that there would be a time when people would turn from the truth of the Gospel and want to have their ears tickled. Paul was saying be real, be genuine, don’t forget where you came from, and do not forget that what you have been called to do. Keep the flame burning in your life and do not allow anything to extinguish that flame, especially fear.
The second aspect of this passage relates to Timothy’s reaction to those things going on around him. You see when we do not fan the flame, we have a greater tendency to walk in fear rather than in love, power, and in self-control. We begin to live from a position of worry and concern and not one of trust. When we do not fan the flame, we can easily compromise the truth of the Gospel. When we do not fan the flame of truth and salvation in our lives we can become hardened and therefore respond to the issues of life with anger, hatred, and fear rather than love. Remember that perfect love casts out all fear. It is God’s perfect love and not our own that will keep us from fear. When we fan the flame of what we have been given to us it will keep us stable because God has given us self-control.
So remember the influencers in your life. Remember that you have not been given a spirit of fear but you have been given a spirit of love, power and self-control. So what do you do with it? Are you living a life worth emulation? That is the question.
Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom