Be A Blessing To Your Congregation !
2 Timothy 1:1-5
By Paul Robison

A father was seeing off his teenage Christian daughter as she was about to go on a date.  He said to her at the door: “Now, be a blessing to all that you meet tonight.”  She smiled, nodded, and then headed out the door.  This young lady had a wise father didn't she?  This sermon's challenge is simple: “Be a blessing to your congregation!” 
Before we look at some specifics from our text today, let's get a little background for the letter of 2 Timothy.  1 Timothy was written in about 63 A. D., but 2 Timothy falls about four years later, and Paul's situation has greatly changed.  In 1 Timothy, he was on the road, but in 2 Timothy, Paul is in a prison in Rome awaiting his execution (4:9-16).  How did he get there?  There is no clear answer given in the letter, but there is a pretty good guess.  Paul tells Timothy to get his coat and parchments in Troas (4:13).  He sounds like he may have had to leave these things because of his arrest.  Immediately after that request to Timothy, Paul warns Timothy to beware of a man who did him much harm named Alexander.  Do you recall where we have heard of an Alexander before? Yes, back in 1 Timothy 1:20, he is mentioned along with Hymanaeus as one of the two church leaders that Paul handed over to Satan.  It sounds like Alexander didn't appreciate Paul's disciplinary action, so he begins looking for a way to get revenge.  The perfect opportunity came when Paul went to visit Troas.  While he was there, Alexander betrayed him and probably told the Roman authorities that he had caused a riot in Ephesus, had been arrested before in Jerusalem, and was still teaching that Jesus was Lord, and not the emperor, was Lord.  Immediately, he was arrested and sent to Rome where he had already had a preliminary trial (his first defense mentioned in 4:16).  This betrayal can't be proven conclusively, but it does make pretty good sense.  Well, after four years have passed, what's happened in Ephesus and in Timothy's life?  It does not appear that the situation has changed very much. Hymanaeus is still teaching falsehoods to lead members at Ephesus astray (2 Timothy 2:17), and there are false teachers who Paul describes as those who “resist the truth” (2 Timothy 3:8).  So, Timothy hasn't seen smooth sailing during the past four years.  In fact, it is interesting that Paul asks Timothy to urgently come to him, and he is sending Tychicus to serve as his replacement in Ephesus (2 Timothy 4:12).  So, some scholars see Paul as “passing on his mantle” to his son in the faith like Elijah did to his helper named Elisha.  A two word theme for this letter would be: “Be loyal!” Paul wants Timothy to keep serving as a loyal Christian evangelist despite the hardships and sufferings that the future will hold, including his own imminent death.  Now, let's look at the opening verses and see if we can discover several actions that can help us to be a blessing to this congregation.
Paul writes in verse one: “Paul, an apostle, of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.”  Paul begins by identifying himself as the writer of this letter, which is the typical way that any Roman of his day would have begun a letter.  Notice how Paul describes himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.  If you will recall, a disciple named Ananias personally confronted Paul in Damascus and explained God's will for him with these words found in Acts 22:14-15: “The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.” Paul spent the rest of his life witnessing about His encounter with Jesus and explaining God's will to his converts.  There's the first action that we can imitate: Practice God's will!  Jesus once said: “... I do not seek My own will, but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 5:30).  As His disciples, this should be our goal as well.  Wherever and whatever the situation may be, we want to uphold God's will in that situation.  Our desires are secondary, God's desire is primary.  If you will practice God's will in all that you do, you will be a blessing to this congregation.
Then notice in this verse how Paul mentions “the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.”  Jesus promised His disciples abundant life now (John 10:10) and eternal life in the hereafter (Mark 9:30).  Isn't it amazing how Paul can be sitting in Roman jail (which is fairly damp and pretty dark) on “death's row” (knowing that his death will soon occur), and what is just about the first thing he mentions in this letter?  As he faces death, Jesus' promise of eternal life is his hope!  And there's a second action for us to imitate: Keep eternal life as your goal!  One of the greatest things about worshiping together is that we can take a break from the daily grind, and we can think about what is truly important!  We can “set our minds on things above, not on things of the earth” (Colossians 3:2), and we can remember that “the things seen are temporary, but the things which are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18), and we can remind ourselves that this “world is passing away, and the lusts of it, but those who practice the will of God will abide forever” (1 John 2:17).  The ultimate goal is not people's praises nor material goods.  When you keep eternal life as your goal, you will be a blessing to this congregation.
Now notice verse 2: “To Timothy, a beloved son: grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Now Paul names the recipient of the letter, following typical Roman letter writing style.  And he describes Timothy as his beloved son.  He is Paul's “son in the faith” since Paul felt a strong affectionate tie to Timothy.  Paul called him his beloved too.  Paul describes many of his brethren in the Lord as beloved: beloved Epaenetus, beloved Amplias, beloved Stachys, beloved Persis, beloved Onesimus, beloved Luke (Romans 16:5-12; Colossians 4:9, 14).  And here's another action that we can imitate: Treat all members as beloved.  Each member here is loved by God, by Jesus, and by the Holy Spirit—no matter their race, their education, their economic status, and all the classifications and ranks that we like to put on people.  So if they are loved by the godhead, why shouldn't we consider and treat them as beloved too?  If you will strive to treat all members as beloved, you will be a blessing to this congregation!
At the end of verse two, Paul mentions “Jesus Christ our Lord.”  That was the truth for which Paul was ready to die and to shed his blood.  He wrote once before: “Therefore God has highly exalted [Jesus] and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).  God's desire is that each person would come to the point that they recognize and acknowledge that Jesus is the Supreme Ruler over all creation and over his or her heart as well!  And this suggests another action: Keep Jesus Christ your Lord!  He is the Ruler, and He calls the shots in your life.  Determine that you're not going to allow any thing or any one else to sit on the throne of your life!  No politician, actor, or rock star, no project, payoff, or peer pressure, no fad, hobby, sport, gizmo, or prize will ever take the exalted place of Jesus in your life!  You will not yield to whatever temptation Satan may offer you!  As you keep Jesus Christ your Lord, you will be a blessing to this congregation!
Now notice verse 3: “I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day ...”  Paul affirms that he serves God with a pure conscience.  Lest Timothy or anybody else think that Paul is a prisoner for misconduct, Paul sets the record straight right off the bat by saying that his service to God comes from a pure conscience.  He has not used underhanded methods or tainted motives in his ministry.  People could accuse Paul of many wrong-doings, but Paul himself knew that he had done everything with a pure and clean conscience!  And there is another action for us as well: Serve God with a pure conscience!  Someone said that a guilty conscience keeps more people awake than coffee.  Someone else noted that when you put a gash in your conscience, you usually wind up disfiguring your soul.  Our conscience is a gift from God, and we need to heed its warning when it flashes that something is wrong in our lives (3 quotes from McKenzie).  We can never fool God, so let's continue to serve Him with a pure conscience.  When you serve God with a pure conscience, you will be a blessing to this congregation!
Notice also in verse 3 how Paul says: “Without ceasing, I remember you ...”  Paul was in Rome, and Timothy was in Ephesus.  Even though he was a little over 5000 miles away, Paul had fond memories of Timothy and the previous times that they had worked together.  One commentator noted that when Paul was in distress, he took refuge in happy joys of the past. Here's an action for us to follow: Remember other brethren!  Sometimes we get so caught up in our own little worlds that we forget there are others in this congregation who are going through great struggles and trials as well.  When a person feels forgotten and alone, he or she usually becomes very depressed and despairing, even hopeless!  Let's not let such a situation ever happen to any member here.  Let's do our best to remember other brethren, and especially if they can no longer worship with us!  Don't forget those who are bedfast and in nursing homes.  If you will remember other brethren, you will be a great blessing to his congregation!
Also in verse 3, Paul says: “Without ceasing, I remember you in my prayers night and day.”  Paul prayed regularly for others.  He prayed for congregations and for individuals, and he told them also that he was praying for them.  There's another action that we can imitate: Pray regularly for others!  Isn't is a wonderful opportunity that we can bring other's names and needs before God's throne?  It is so good to see that this congregation believes in prayer.  There are names given in our bulletin, names given in your Bible classes, and names given in our monthly prayer sheets for whom we can pray.  In just a short time, you can be praying for 50-100 people easily each week!  And there are probably some brethren here who are praying for hundreds each week! We often can't do much, but we believe with all our hearts that God can. God can heal, God can strengthen, God can comfort, God can bless, God can help, God can transform!  When you pray regularly for others, you will be a blessing to this congregation!
Now notice verse 4: “... greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy ...”  Only Luke is with Paul as he awaits his final hearing and execution, and Paul wants to see John Mark and Timothy before his death (4:9-11).  Paul says that he desires greatly to see Timothy despite the troubling situation that still exists in Ephesus and the dangers to Timothy a visit might bring.  People who love one another greatly enjoy each other's presence.  There's another action for us: Greatly desire to see others!  Do we really long to see each other at our worship services, Bible studies, and other appointed times or do we sort of just expect that others will show up and take them for granted?  Do we forget that we are all mortal, and we never know who could be missing from our next assembly?  When you greatly desire to see others, you will be blessing to this congregation.
Did you notice that next tender expression in verse 4: “... being mindful of your tears ...”?  Paul was recalling a time when Timothy shed tears. When that event took place is uncertain.  One commentator has it correct when he observed: “Paul remembered Timothy's tears which symbolized Timothy's love for Paul” (Spain).  Paul had not forgotten that very emotional experience.  We also need to be mindful of others' tears.  For Christians, there can be tears of joy, tears of grief, tears of repentance, and tears of pleading.  Are we so close to our brothers and sisters in the Lord that we can pretty well tell why they are crying?  Or have we grown so cold and indifferent that we don't shed tears anymore?  If you will be mindful of others' tears, you will be a blessing to this congregation.
Now notice what Paul said at the end of verse 4: “... greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy ...” Paul wanted to see Timothy so that he could rejoice in their bond as fellow disciples ruled by the same King.  One commentator noted that the expression “filled with joy” shows Paul's wholeheartedness (Guthrie).  All this suggests another action for us: Rejoice in Christ's fellowship!  Jesus' death brings peace and unity among all who are His disciples.  His joy is different from the world's joy because it is based on His resurrection, His supremacy, and His immortality!  As members of His body, we enjoy all the spiritual blessings that He gives to us richly each day.  “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say: 'Rejoice'” (Philippians 4:4)!  As you rejoice in Christ's fellowship, you will be a blessing to this congregation.
Now let's look at verse 5: “when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”  Paul says that he remembers Timothy's genuine faith.  “In this you greatly rejoice, through now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7).  Timothy had certainly seen chaos, hardships, and trials at the congregation in Ephesus, but those fires had proven the genuineness of his faith.  Timothy may have had his weaknesses, but he was outstanding in his faith.  Another action we can put into practice is this: Reflect on others' faith.  All Christians live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), and they realize that faith working through love is what God desires (Galatians 5:6).  Christians work hard to keep one another in God's love by building up one another's faith (Jude 20).  Let's rejoice like Paul when we see the genuineness of others' active and growing faith.  If you will reflect on others' faith and do all you can to strengthen it, you will be a blessing to this congregation.
Paul told in the last part of verse 5 how Timothy's faith began with his mother and his grandmother.  Lois and Eunice had taught Timothy the Scriptures because Paul says that he had known them since his childhood (2 Timothy 3:15).  Undoubtedly, Lois and Eunice told Timothy stories about Jesus, prayed with him, disciplined him, and encouraged him to do God's will.  Despite a pagan father, these godly women brought up Timothy in the nurture and admonition of Jesus.  Now there’s another action for us: Pass on your faith to the next generation.  In America, we have at least four generations, which have been called The Builders, The Boomers, The Busters, and The Bridgers.  Each generation has it own cherished values, and sometimes they clash with one another.  In the church, we must work hard to edify and to strength ALL the generations. This means, at times, we must subdue our preferences in order to help another generation.  “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10).  When you pass on your faith to the next generation, you will be a blessing to this congregation.
Paul was a blessing to Timothy, and you can be blessing to other members too.  The first few verses of 2 Timothy have suggested a dozen actions: practice God's will, keep eternal life as your goal, treat all members as beloved, keep Jesus as your Lord, serve God with a pure conscience, remember other brethren, pray regularly for others, greatly desire to see others, be mindful of others' tears, rejoice in Jesus' fellowship, reflect on others' faith, and pass on your faith to the next generation!  Let's be loyal and keep on following in Jesus' footsteps!  “We’re part of the family that’s been born again.  We’re part of the family whose love knows no end!  For Jesus has saved us, and made us His own.  Now we’re part of the family that’s on its way home.  When a brother meets sorrow, we all feel his grief.  When passes through the valley, we all feel relief.  Together in sunshine, together in rain.  Together in victory, thru His precious name” (Wolfe)!  Your baptism now or your confession now can also bring a blessing to this assembly.  Accept Jesus' invitation to follow Him!