Read the BIG PRINT
Reading: 2 Timothy 1-4
Paul saw in Timothy a younger version of himself. Paul referred to himself as a “…herald and an apostle and a teacher” (2 Timothy 1:11, NIV) and told Timothy that because of the exercise of his gifts in the service of the Lord his mentor had suffered persecution. But Paul was not ashamed or deterred by the price he had paid in following the Lord and he didn’t want his young protégé to be either.
As he began this second letter to his beloved son in the faith, he encouraged Timothy to use his gifts to the best spiritual advantage possible. But he didn’t make light of what this boldness was going to cost the younger man. What he, Paul, had suffered, so Timothy would also suffer. “…I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join me in suffering for the Gospel, by the power of God…” (2 Timothy 1:6-8, NIV).
I’m not sure how many of us would respond to an invitation to suffer for the Gospel. Okay, we understand there might be a certain amount of suffering involved in being “a herald and an apostle and a teacher” but that’s usually found in the fine print not in big, bold letters at the top of the contract. This idea makes me wonder how whoever our church interviews for the position of our next pastor would react if at the top of his job description he read the words, “must be willing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel.”
Hmmmmm, considering what Paul might have meant by that statement, I have a feeling that most candidates would hightail it out of town in a hurry. Paul had been beaten, left for dead, shipwrecked, and a host of other things. He had denied himself a wife, gone hungry, been exhausted, and cold (easy enough to do in our part of the world!). But he embraced the experience—and so did Timothy.
It was no light matter for a young man to walk in Paul's shadow. Nor was it a light matter to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Paul once said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1, NIV).
We all know where that took them.
Perhaps it’s time to review the job description—for all of us.