Paul tells Timothy to 'Be strong' - but in what source of strenght? Strong in the grace that is in Jesus, the grace we heard about last week, the grace that is in the very character of God from the beginning, now fully revealed in Jesus. It is His ability, our availability.
But in this strength Paul wants Timothy to do something very important. He wants him to not just be strong in himself, as one strong believer, but to pass it on - disciple, train up, entrust and release others ... so they can be strong in the grace too.
This is the discipleship principle we have been talking about all year, an organic model that enables ongoing and potentially exponential growth. Did you know that you have circa 37 trillion cells in your body ... but once upon a time you were just one cell that then replicated, and replicated again, and again, each time passing on the critical DNA and the ability to replicate!
So maybe you as one single person do not have to disciple hundreds of others. Perhaps if you just discipled a few, but that few really well ... so that they in turn might disciple really well also, then you would be part of that same organic principle that can grow and spread indefinitely.
In verse 3 onwards Paul uses three different images. As before he invites Timothy to join in his suffering - it is goes with the calling, and it has no shame. A soldier knows his role and gets on with it, rather than turning civilian at the first sign of trouble! An athlete trains hard and competes by the rules, and a farmer is rewarded for his hard work and diligence. Clearly Paul is saying stick to the task and be diligent in it - put your life on the line like he has. Today is of course remembrance Sunday; fitting that we bear in mind that we are in ongoing spiritual conflict, which requires fixed resolve and attention to what needs doing.
This struggle is all for the gospel that Paul wonderfully summarises in just 9 words in verse 8. Jesus was an actual person, with human descent in a royal line. Yet he was more than that, he was vindicated by God, shown to be God Himself sent to us. For this Jesus Paul was willing to go to prison, even die.
Paul breaks into a poem that challenges us in our ongoing call. Have we died with him (given up on living for self), for this is the pathway to life lived to the full into eternity. Can we endure, since for those that can reigning with Jesus in his Kingdom awaits. Yet should we disown (walk away from Jesus), we must know that Jesus allows us that freedom to the point of ultimately confirming that choice for us. But should we be unfaithful in our living there is a twist - despite our unfaithfulness He will remain faithful, because it is in His very character - He cannot be or act in some way that contradicts Himself!
Key Qn: [IN] Where does God need to challenge you right now?
Challenge: Pass it on! Share your growth so others might grow
Which aspect of the poem challenges you personally the most right now? God challenges us not to beat us up, but so that we may come before Him and grow, so that He can entrust you with even more. Yet that growth is not simply for ourselves, but something that can be shared and passed on to others.