Be Bold in the Lord – 2 Timothy 1:1-7

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We’ve had an amazing journey studying the book of 1 Timothy. We completed the letter of 1 Timothy last Sunday and we are starting with 2 Timothy this week. In terms of its biblical context it does seem like a couple of years of years passed since his last letter to Timothy. Some things have changed since then. Paul was arrested and imprisoned in Rome for a second time. From the description given in this letter it does seem like this imprisonment was much more severe and confined than the previous experience. So much so, that a believer named Onesiphorus needed to search earnestly in order to find him. (1:17) All of Paul’s companions abandoned him by this point. His chains and his martyrdom were too much for the others so they left him alone. Only Luke remained with him (4:11). It’s in a cold dungeon as he’s waiting for his “departure”, he writes a farewell letter to his disciple, faithful companion and close friend.
This letter is ordained and written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit but we’ll see elements of personal heartfelt statements as Paul remembers his memories with Timothy. Few of the key themes that we’ll come across in this letter are:
• Suffering
• Truth
• Godliness

Let’s look at the first seven verses of 2 Timothy 1 for today’s meditation:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,

2 To Timothy, my beloved child:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

3 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. 4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 5 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. 6 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, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Tim 1:1-7)

In our Christian walk there are many instances where it calls us to be bold! Let me also say by boldness I don’t mean arrogance, dominating and harsh. In our culture, that’s what we refer to as being bold. Being bold is like Arnab Goswami is what we think in today’s culture. However, biblically being bold is about having strong convictions about the truths of the gospel but expressing it with gentleness and humility.
24 And the Lord’s servant[e] must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth (2 Tim 2:24, 25)

So there are quite a few places where it requires us to be bold:

1. We need to be bold in our witness. We need to boldly speak the truths about Jesus while speaking to unbelievers.

2. We need to be bold while confronting the sins within the church. This is probably something we don’t hear nowadays. “Oh, well you have no right to tell me what to do” or “Who made you judge over my life?” These might be the responses you will hear if you confront sin in today’s church. However, as we see in Scripture the church is the body of Christ and we have a role in maintaining its purity and unity. So there’s always going to be a need for confronting sin until we are made perfect (completely separated from the presence of sin) on the day Christ returns. Paul in Galatians 2 confronts Peter with his sin because the moment a few people from the Jewish circumcision party came to Antioch, he withdrew himself from the Gentiles and only ate with Jews. Paul had to confront him because this was hypocrisy and would negatively affect the Gentile believers at Antioch. And this was Peter! Just imagine having to confront someone like Peter. That requires boldness, don’t you agree?

3. We need to be bold against false teachers. That was the context of Ephesus at that time. Timothy’s role as a pastor there was to teach the right doctrine but also refute and stop the false teachers from influencing the church. Even though some time has passed since Paul’s first letter it seems like the false teachers were still having an influence in the church. Timothy was also facing opposition from these men. They were probably older in age and claimed to be “wiser” and more knowledgeable. He needed boldness to refute them.

So we do understand that boldness is required. But what about times when we aren’t bold but timid. Here’s how today’s passage can empower us to have godly boldness:

1. Remembering each other constantly in prayer (v3)

3 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.

One thing I wonder when I look at this passage is, why does Paul thank God for Timothy?

It’s a prayer of thanksgiving along with petitions made for him. Paul is probably thanking God for choosing Timothy sovereignly. In God’s Sovereign wisdom, He chose Timothy to be adopted as His son in Christ. Paul’s also probably thanking God for saving Timothy. The gospel one fine day started to make sense to him. It’s like the lights went on! Suddenly the story of Christ crucified on the cross seemed so beautiful to him because he saw that his sins were placed on the cross. Christ rising from the dead gave so much hope and joy to Timothy that he wanted it and desired to repent and place his full trust in what Christ did for him. It’s the story of every believer. And Paul rightly could thank God for that. Paul then probably thanked God for the many ways in which Timothy is being changed into the likeness of Jesus. Paul has fond memories of the first time he shared the gospel with Timothy. And then seeing Timothy grow through those years of life on life discipleship – 15-20 years. Paul also probably thanks God for using Timothy to lead and minister to the church in Ephesus which was a growing church.

The next question is why does Paul constantly pray for Timothy? Doesn’t God already know what Paul has been asking for Timothy? Why pray more?

Sometimes we forget the purpose of prayer. Prayer is not designed so that God can find out what we need.

for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matt 6:8)

Prayer expresses our trust on God and is a means by which our trust increases. When we look at the “unceasing”, “non-stop” prayers that Paul makes for believers in other letters we see how he actually believes and has faith in what he prays. It’s not because he just wants to say something positive and encouraging to the believers. Here are some examples:

11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thess 1:11-12)

9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks[d] to the Father, who has qualified you[e] to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (Col 1:9-12)

You see a firm conviction that God will answer because these requests are in perfect accordance to God’s will.

In Luke 11, just after the Lord’s prayer Jesus encourages his disciples to pray because God delights and responds to his people’s prayer.

11 What father among you, if his son asks for[d] a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

If we knew how God acts and accomplishes His purposes through prayers of his people, we wouldn’t stop praying!!!

Just know that one of the most powerful and real ways in which you can help and encourage your brother and sister in Christ who struggles with timidity and fear is by praying for them.

2. Reminding each other how sincere faith is expressed by exercising our gifts

5 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. 6 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

What does Paul mean “By sincere faith”? It means a faith that is genuine and not hypocritical.

Paul is trying to encourage Timothy by reminding him of his faith and also talking about his spiritual heritage. Not to say that Timothy inherited his faith from his mother or granny. No, we enter into a relationship with Christ through personal faith. But the work of Christ in his family’s life was visible evidence to the work and power of Christ! Which is why it’s important to see our homes as one of the most key places where we display who Christ is to our family members! The way we talk about the gospel, the way we apply the gospel and the way we respond to the gospel matters at home especially.

Paul makes an interesting connection between this verse on sincere faith and relates that with the next verse which talks about “fanning into flame the gift of God”. Even though in this passage it’s not clear what the gift is but I really believe it’s referring to his gifting of “preaching and teaching”. Where do we see that?

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Tim 4:1,2)

13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them,[c] so that all may see your progress. (1 Tim 4:13-15)

So that was his gifting but let’s understand the principle here. If you have sincere faith, then it will need to be expressed by using your gifts to help and serve the body! You cannot have a situation of a person who says “I have really genuine faith but I don’t want to serve a local church”.

Saju and I were just talking a few days back of how sometimes the main reason why we fail to experience joy and life in our Christian walk is due to boredom! We are just bored lacking that purpose which needs to drive us each day. And Christ didn’t give us gifts to “preserve” them. He gave them to us graciously so that we may “spend” them on the people he’s placed around us. Just imagine how passionate and life-giving your life would be if you thought each day “I need to use my gift to serve this person, I need to use my gift to meet this need, I need to use my gift to bless this person”. Our job as elders is to facilitate and encourage multiple gifts and ways by which the body is being built up into Jesus. Our conviction is that if we are all not contributing and serving each other, then we in fact end up hurting each other.

15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)

The illustration that helps me understand this is how if one of our legs is injured, the other leg has to apply extra effort in order to make the body move forward. And it’s true about the church too.

My personal experience with this is: I’ve seen so much of joy and passion as I’ve invested and spent myself in serving others with my gift. That in turn has also fuelled my faith. So let’s have those conversations about how can we use our gifts more and more.

Seeing Christ work through our administration of our gifts as we serve each other adds more confidence and boldness in our faith. That’s the principle behind 1 Tim 3:13.

Lastly, we can be encouraged to be bold by:

3. Understanding the power of the Holy Spirit within us

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (v7)

How many of us truly believe this verse? Often in churches like ours it’s a topic we end up wither side-lining or diminishing in terms of its focus. If I have to be honest, this understanding of the power of the Holy Spirit is something that I have a lot to grow in. When we look at the book of Acts and even other places where the Spirit is mentioned it’s in a sense of power and divine strength being given to the believer. Often times when we talk about the Holy Spirit we think of it as a fire-cracker when it’s supposed to be a dynamite in the sense of His power! Here are a few verses that reveal the miraculous power of the Spirit:

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:8-11)

2 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Gal 5:22)

In the book of Acts, whenever we see instances of the disciples being “filled in the Spirit” it results in them boldly declaring about Jesus. And if we have believed in Jesus, we too have the same Spirit in us!

Also, this Spirit empowers us to love God and people in a special way! Which means that even during times when we are being severely persecuted for our faith, the Spirit will strengthen us to love God. Also, with respect to love…the Spirit will empower us to love people who hate us. And sometimes these things seem unimaginable or extremely hard but that’s the powerful Spirit within us. We do have to be step with the Spirit. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. (v25)

There is an action, a human responsibility involved here. For example, if we aren’t spending time fuelling our love for God by studying Scripture, we cannot automatically expect affections for God to suddenly turn on. True Christianity isn’t lazy Christianity! Another example is if we don’t take radical measures to kill sin and keep ourselves pure, we cannot expect our love for God to grow from there.

Finally, self-control…why is self-control mentioned in that list? How does self-control relate with boldness?

I believe the lack of self-control often affects us from being bold for the Lord. Either it adds a lot of guilt. “How can I share about Jesus when I myself struggle with an excess love for money, position, pleasure?” Or where it becomes a reason for reproach from others where they point fingers at our lifestyle.

I hope we don’t look at this passage and feel disheartened if we don’t see perfect love for God or people, or perfect self-control being exhibited in our lives. The bible has a word called “repent” which means change of mind and turning back to God. Acknowledging the Spirit’s work in our life and now keeping in step with the Spirit.

There is a reason why Paul mentioned these ways reasons to encourage Timothy in his moment of fear: remembering him in prayer constantly, reminding him to exercise his spiritual gift and helping him understand the power of Spirit that is in him. Let these three ways encourage our hearts toward immense boldness in the faith!

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