Some Commands For Timothy (And All Christians)
2 Timothy 1:6-14

By Paul Robison


 
Friedrich Von Steuben, was a military officer from Prussia, whom George Washington welcomed to teach his troops about drills, formations, and marches.  “When this officer saw the American soldiers in their rags and half-starved, he said that no European army could be kept together under such conditions.  But he set to work immediately and wrote our drill movements, commands, and regulations in one night.  The next day 120 men became his model group, and they started learning all the commands, like Fall in, Attention, Present Arms, Right Flank, At Ease, etc.  They learned to respond to commands without hesitation.  This new discipline instilled in each man a sense of alertness, urgency, and attention to detail.  As these men mastered the art of drill, they developed pride in themselves and in their unit.  Watching the model company drill, observers were amazed to see how quickly and orderly the troops could be massed and maneuvered into different battle formations.  Later, the 120 men were distributed throughout the Continental Army to teach drill to others” (Drill and Ceremonies, Field Manual, Dec. 1986, from Scribd).  So how does this tidbit of American history tie in with our sermon?  We are looking at the letter of 2 Timothy where and old soldier in the faith, who is facing his execution, is writing to a young soldier in faith.  We saw in our last sermon how Paul uses his typical greeting in letters to others and let's them know that he is praying for them.  We see Paul's affection for Timothy is strong since he desires to see him, he remembers an emotional occasion where Timothy cried, and he speaks of Timothy's genuine faith which was fostered in him by his godly mother and grandmother.  Upon the basis of this good relationship, Paul is now ready to give Timothy some commands, some commands that all Christians need to take to heart as well.
 
Now let's read verse 6: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  Back in 1 Timothy 4:14, we read: “Do not neglect the gift that is in you by prophecy, with the laying on of hands of the eldership.  “Therefore” shows us that Paul's command is rooted to the good relationship that he had with Timothy. Paul does something a little different at this point from most of his letters.  Usually, when Paul wants a congregation or a person to do something, he writes something like: “I exhort you ... or I beg you ...” and then comes the action that Paul wants them to put into practice.  The motivation for this type of command is also the authority of person who gives it. But Paul doesn't use this direct approach with Timothy.  He's more affectionate here, and says, “I remind you ...” and then points back to a particular shared event that had an impact on Timothy's life.  This may refer all the way back to the second missionary journey when Paul first met Timothy in Lystra, and Timothy joined Paul and Silas as they traveled (Acts 16:1-5).  We don't know what this gift was, but it certainly made an impression on Paul because he refers to it in both letters.  That time of blessing and commissioning is a reference point from which Timothy could draw strength.  In some way, he had been gifted and appointed for his ministry.  So Paul is telling Timothy again four years later to stir up that gift that he had been given in the past.  The idea of stir up here would be similar to stirring up the embers in a fireplace. “Keep fanning the flame of that gift which you were given” is the literal meaning behind the command stir up.  So, Paul is commanding Timothy: Keep using your gift!  Whatever his gift was, Timothy was not to neglect it or let it grow cold.  He was to put it into practice and keep it burning brightly in his service to the saints at Ephesus.  “Keep using your gift, Timothy!” is the first command.  And that's also a timely command for us as well isn't it?  Not long ago, we saw in another sermon that sometimes we are blessed with natural talents and we develop them as we mature, like Joseph who had a talent for organization, and David, who had a musical talent, and Lydia, who had a talent for hospitality.  And then the New Testament gives eight talents from Jesus and the Holy Spirit that are not miraculous: exhorter, helper, giver, mercy shower, administrator, preacher, teacher, and elder.  How are we to use these natural and supernatural talents?  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:7: “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.”  Use your talent for the benefit of the whole congregation.  Peter says something very similar in 1 Peter 4:10: “As each one [same wording as in Paul] has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.  Use your gift to serve other members.  Just like Timothy, keep using your gift!  And let your talent be a blessing to this congregation.  With the diversity of talents among us, isn't it great that we can achieve more together than we ever could working individually?  Keep using your gift!  Since each of us has a talent according to these writers, don't neglect or let your talent grow cold.  Keep fanning the flame of your gift for the service and blessing of the whole congregation!  When you use your talent to help others, to serve Jesus, and to glorify God, you will feel a great joy because you are doing God's will!  Keep using your gift!
 
Now let's read verse 7 for Paul's second command: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  The word translated fear in this passage literally means cowardice.  God has not given to the soldiers in Jesus' army a spirit of cowardice.  So here is Paul's next command: Don't be cowardly because God has equipped you for battle!  Cowardice renders a person unfit for battle. ... Paul had been a good soldier (4:7).  Timothy was expected to be a good soldier (2:3)” (Collins).  And we should be good soldiers too.  Well, how has God equipped us?  Paul affirms that He has equipped us with power, love, and a sound mind or good judgment.  “Dunamis (power) denotes great force, or energy, and is the term from which we get dynamic and dynamite.  It also carries the connotation of effective, productive energy, rather than that which is raw and unbridled.  God provides us with His power in order for us to be effective in His service. … God also has given every believer the resource of His own divine love, which we received at the time of our new birth or baptism.  In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul exulted: 'The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us' (Rom. 5:5).  The love we have from God is [that unique] agape [love], the [willing] and selfless love that desires and works for the best interests of the one love” (MacAuthur).  “In a leader, [sound mind] implies good judgment and prudence ... self-control and self-discipline” (Collins).  Good judgment helps us to fight our battles wisely. Don't be cowardly because God has equipped you for battle!  “We all face situations where we feel [cowardly; some are afraid of] speaking in front of others ...; others are afraid of confrontation; others of being made look foolish; others of rejection.  We all must deal with fear.  [Now] the first step in dealing with such fears is to understand that they are not from God.  [Personality, weakness, past history, or Satan may be the cause,] but it isn't from God.  … God wants you to take His power, His love, and His calm thinking [to overcome your fears and cowardice]” (Guzik).  Don't be cowardly because God has equipped you for battle!  Someone made this good comment: “[You’ve] probably heard the expression, 'This separates the men from the boys!'  What kinds of things separate the men from the boys?  Things that involve danger and risk.  Things that take courage and a willingness to sacrifice.  Things that are grueling and gut-wrenching.  Things that require maturity and perseverance, not just boyish enthusiasm and [excitement].  In a sense, that’s what this [passage] teaches about the Christian life.  [The apostle Paul] isn’t separating the men from the boys, He’s separating the real Christian from the merely religious” (Lewis).  Don't be cowardly because God has equipped you for battle!
 
Let's read now verses 8-12 for Paul's third command: “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.  For this reason, I shall also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. Paul's next command is this: Don't be ashamed of Jesus or avoid suffering because God will strengthen and sustain you and Jesus will reward you!  Why would anyone be ashamed of Jesus?  Because Jesus' crucifixion as a criminal was not seen in a positive light in the first century.  Remember what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:22-24: “For the Jews request a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  One commentator explains: “'Testimony [of] our Lord' is not synonymous with 'the gospel,' the message of the good news. Rather, it should be taken as a reference to the trial and eventual death of Jesus.  Jesus died by crucifixion, a form of punishment meted out to slaves and criminals.  Testimony about Paul would be similar.  Paul is a prisoner, chained and treated like a [rebel against the State] because of the message that he proclaimed.  Timothy and other Christians might well experience some shame with regard to both the fate of Jesus and situation of Paul.  Timothy's association with them would be something for which he would lose face [or would lose his own life].  Rather than being ashamed, however, Timothy is commanded to join with Paul in suffering for the sake of the gospel. ... It is not suffering for the sake of suffering.  It is suffering for a cause, [for] the proclamation of the gospel.  Paul suffered for the sake of that message (2:8-10).  Timothy, his beloved son, is to do likewise” (Collins).  And so should we.  Don't be ashamed of Jesus or avoid suffering because God will strengthen and sustain you and Jesus will reward you!  Suffering for the Gospel is one of the major themes in this letter.  Now notice how Paul explains why we should be willing to suffer for the Gospel.  “'In accordance with the power of God' signifies 'as God strengthens you to do so', with the implication that God's strength will be sufficient to enable Timothy to bear it” (Marshall).  How did Paul know that God would sustain Timothy in his sufferings?  Well, he reminds Timothy that God has already saved, called, and appointed them to their ministries.  With that kind of gracious track record, God will continue to strengthen them during their persecutions.  Don't be ashamed of Jesus or avoid suffering because God will strengthen and sustain you and Jesus will reward you!  Paul then adds one other reason for being willing to suffer for the Gospel: Jesus will reward you.  This is what Paul means when he affirms: “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him until that Day.”  That Day of course is the Judgment Day. Paul is fully persuaded that all his efforts for Jesus will be rewarded since Jesus will not forget each act done in His name and each time of suffering for the Gospel's sake.  Don't be ashamed of Jesus or avoid suffering because God will strengthen and sustain you and Jesus will reward you!
 
Now let's read verses 13-14 for the next command: “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.  That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.”  Paul's command here is this: Keep upholding sound teaching and the Gospel because the Spirit will help you!  One commentator is right when he notes that there are actually two commands: “There are two parallel commands. The first is to hold on to the pattern expressed in the 'healthy words' taught by Paul.  Paul's proclamation is to be used as a model or standard for sound preaching.  The second command is to maintain the 'deposit' [or] to prevent [the Gospel from] being lost or altered, and for this purpose Timothy is reminded of the help of the Holy Spirit who is in believers. … The call [to proclaim the faith and] to guard the Gospel is appropriate in a letter in which the writer appears to be aware that he is at the end of [his] active ministry” (Marshall). Faithful proclamation of the New Testament and loyal preservation of the Gospel are our responsibilities as well.  Keep upholding sound teaching and the Gospel because the Spirit will help you! You see, “... just as [Jesus] has power to [keep] what we have entrusted to Him (v. 12), He also gives us power to keep the treasure which He has entrusted to us. …  The most solemn responsibility that any [Christian] has ... is to uphold and defend the integrity of [the New Testament]” (MacAuthur).  Let's stand up for Christ's and the apostles' teachings in spite of the attacks and jokes that others often make against them!  Keep upholding sound teaching and the Gospel because the Spirit will help you!  An unknown writer said, "This Book is the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers.  Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding; its histories are true, and its decisions are [unchangeable].  Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be holy.  It contains light to direct you, [spiritual] food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.  It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's character.  Here paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed.  Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end.  It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet.  Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully.  It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure.  Follow its precepts and it will lead you to Calvary, to the empty tomb, to a resurrected life in Christ; yes, to glory itself, for eternity.”  Time magazine once gave this report: “The breadth, sophistication and diversity of all this biblical investigation are impressive, but it begs a question: Has it made the Bible more credible or less? … believers ... may well conclude that its credibility has been enhanced. After more than two centuries of facing the heaviest scientific guns that could be brought to bear, the Bible has survived— and is perhaps the better for the siege.  Even on the critics' own terms— historical fact— the Scriptures seem more acceptable now than they did when the rationalists began the attack” (quoted in Boice’s sermon).  Keep upholding sound teaching and the Gospel because the Spirit will help you!
 
The army has about a dozen basic battlefield drills.  These drills have simple commands, but they lead to some very scripted actions or procedures that should be applied.  When those protocols have been followed quickly, troops have been moved and individual's lives have been saved.  The simple commands that Paul gave to Timothy were important since they would help him win his battles and save his soul eternally.  We also can continue to put them into practice: keep using your gift; don't be cowardly because God has equipped you for the battle; don't be ashamed of Jesus or avoid suffering because God will strengthen and sustain you, and Jesus will reward you; keep upholding sound teaching and the Gospel because the Spirit will help you!  The two word summary of 2 Timothy is: “Be loyal!”  And obeying these four commands will help you to remain loyal to Jesus and to save your soul eternally!  If you're not in Jesus' army, there is no better time to enlist.  If you've failed to use your gift, or to uphold the Gospel, or if you've cowardly or ashamed of Jesus, why not confess these sins and ask for forgiveness.  Be loyal to the King of kings and come to Him now.