Here at The Constant Battle, we know that as we grow as followers of Jesus, our focus needs to go beyond the personal battle we all face between the Holy Spirit and our sinful nature. It’s an ongoing battle, but we equip ourselves and strengthen the spirit each day, and in doing so the battles become shorter and easier to win. The mission of every Christ follower is to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” It is not the Christian’s job to sit idly by and to keep the Good News to him/herself, but sometimes we can allow fear to creep in and lie to us; sometimes we cling to a more timid feeling or we can get caught up in what people might think of us.
When we read the Bible, we read about apostles like Paul who faced beatings and imprisonment for spreading the Good News and yet he declared, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” You are not alone in your fears and insecurities. The man whom Paul called his “son in the faith” seemed to face these same problems when it came to leading people. Paul wrote two letters of encouragement to Timothy, and it is from these letters that we can gain insight into the problems with which Timothy struggled.
It seems that Timothy struggled with insecurities, specifically about what other people thought of him.
“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
Paul immediately addresses Timothy’s age and tells him to not let it be an issue. Paul advises Timothy to be an example in what he says, how he lives, how he loves, through his faith and through his purity to all believers, not just to people his age and younger. Paul lists every aspect of life when he tells Timothy to be an example because it might be easy to dismiss what someone says because of their age, but if you see that they live their life righteously, and they love and have faith and are pure the way they should be, then age starts to fade away.
Timothy may also have been a bit timid or struggled with fearfulness. He knew that his mentor was locked up because of his faith and this might have given rise to fear within Timothy. Two times, Paul directly addresses these feelings to Timothy.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News.” (2 Timothy 1:7-8)
“Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:1)
Paul reminds us of the essence of the spirit God has given us through His great grace: power, love, and self-discipline. This Spirit God has given us isn’t a fearful one; it’s not timid, so we should never be ashamed to tell others about the Lord. Through this strength that God gives we need to be ready to suffer for the sake of the Good News. Timothy needed to hear this and so do we.
Like any human being, like any young man, Timothy faced temptation. Temptation to give up or slack off or listen to false teaching or temptations of the flesh.
“Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. For, at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords.” (1 Timothy 6:12-15)
Paul warns Timothy several times of false teachers (1 Timothy 4:1-5, 1 Timothy 6:1-10, 2 Timothy 3:1-9) because he knows that Satan wants to lure us away and there could be a temptation to listen to these false teachings. Paul urges Timothy to keep fighting, to hold tightly to the Truth and encourages him by telling him no one can find fault in him if he lives this way, and that Jesus is coming again at just the right time.
“Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
Paul also knew of the temptations of lust and he tells Timothy to run from anything that stimulates those lusts. But Paul doesn’t leave it there as many teachers do; we don’t just run away without a goal, without something to run toward. We run from the temptation of our lusts and pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Paul encourages Timothy to surround himself with friends who are pure of heart and who also call on the Lord. If you have friends like this you know how valuable they are. God never expected us to go through this life alone. Jesus Himself needed friends and so do we.
At times we can all struggle with these feelings and we get the benefit of learning from Paul’s advice just as Timothy did. You are not alone in your insecurities, fears, or temptations and we have God’s word to comfort and instruct us. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.