by Jeffrey Hagan
(Tacoma, WA)

Paul passed on to Timothy some timeless instructions for the Church as well as advice for living the Christian life. Well, from Paul to Timothy to us we get some valuable lessons.

Lesson 1: Chapter 1 - We need to "fan the flame" of God's gift.

1:6-7, "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-control."

This is interesting because Timothy had already shown that he was very faithful and dedicated to ministry, yet Paul had this exhortation for him.

Our faith is going to take dedication and perseverance. We need to be careful not to become stagnant but to pursue God even when it’s uncomfortable. We don’t want to look back on our lives and realize that we haven’t grown. We all have room to grow and we need to be intentional about "fanning the flame" of our faith.

Lesson 2: Chapter 2 - Handle God's word rightly.

2:23-26, "Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will."

In this chapter Paul warns us to stay away from “foolish, ignorant controversies” and to avoid being quarrelsome. He also makes it clear that false teaching cannot be tolerated.

The way to avoid foolish, ignorant controversies and to make sure we are not taking part in false teaching is to rightly handle God’s word. To do that, we need to be dedicated to spending time in the Word and learning what it says. We need to be reading and learning the truth straight from the Bible. That’s not to say that commentaries, theology books, elders/pastors and teachers can’t help us. But we shouldn’t be solely relying on what they say about God’s word. We need to dedicate time for our own study as well.

Lesson 3: Chapter 3 - Be prepared for persecution.

3:1, "But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty."

We want to believe that we live in a free and accepting country where we can follow Jesus without fear. But the truth is, although we are fortunate not to fear imprisonment (at least for now) for something like owning a Bible, we experience persecution in other ways. It’s getting less and less popular to believe that there’s absolute right and wrong or that there’s only one path to God.

Paul tells us in this chapter that morality is going to continue to degenerate through the last days. As that happens, our stance in God’s truth is going to be tested. There will be times when it won’t be easy, but we should cling to our faith and to God’s word. Our goal is to be godly even while living in an ungodly world.

Lesson 4: Chapter 4 - We are to depend on God and each other.

4:9, 11b, 13

"Do your best to come to me soon...Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry...When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments."

At the end of 2 Timothy, in a passage that many might skip right over, Paul asks Timothy to come see him quickly and to bring Mark. He asks for some of his personal belongings as well. Paul is in prison and close to the end of his life, and he’s asking for people and the word of God. That tells us about what’s most important to him–God and people.

Not only are we created to need God, but we need community too. When hard times come to those around us, we should standby and not forsake them. We like to believe that we don’t need anyone or anything, but it’s simply not true. Self-sufficiency is a value of our culture, but we are actually created to depend on God and each other.

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