This afternoon, I was asked to lead a Bible study discussion on 2 Timothy 2:1-13. These are a few of the thoughts that I came up with as I was preparing…
– The emphasis is not on us, but on Him. He is God, the Almighty, the Creator…and we are his, naturally, His possession because the Creator always owns his creation. But in a much more personal level—he claims us not as mere objects, but as children. This alone is evidence of the grace seen in the next phrase.
Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus
– Grace is by definition unmerited favor; it is getting what we don’t deserve. You have to recognize grace to be strengthened by grace. If we go about our every-day lives focusing only on what is in front of us, not looking for the hand of God, remembering who He is and what He has done, if we are ungrateful, we miss out on grace. As a result, we walk around stuck in the mud of self-pity, stressed, burnt-out, and unaware of the grace being bestowed on us.
– I think it is also important to realize that grace does not eliminate suffering: J.C. Ryle says of this: “If we are true Christians, we must not expect everything smooth in our journey to heaven. We must count it no strange thing, if we have to endure sicknesses, losses, bereavements, and disappointments, just like other people. Free pardon and full forgiveness, grace by the way and glory to the end – all this our Savior has promised to give. But He has never promised that we shall have no afflictions. He loves us too well to promise that. By affliction He teaches us many precious lessons, which without it we should never learn. By affliction He shows us our emptiness and weakness, draws us to the throne of grace, purifies our affections, weans us from the world and makes us long for heaven. In the resurrection morning we shall all say, ‘it is good for me that I was afflicted.’ [Psalm 119:71] We shall thank God for every storm.”
– How does grace strengthen us?
Faithful men who are able to teach others also
– The gospel is meant to be transmitted generationally. Paul learned from Christ and the other disciples. Paul taught Timothy. Timothy is supposed to teach faithful men. The faithful men are supposed to teach others. This is the essence of discipleship. Walk with Christ. Learn and grow. But as you are learning and growing, do it with someone. Teach someone else what you are learning. Educational psychologists noted years ago that people learn best by teaching others. That’s nothing new to Christ. Why else did he tell the people of Israel in the Old Testament to teach the law to their children? Why did he tell the disciples to go and teach others?
– The world mocks those who continually take in calories and food and never expend any. Proverbs calls them gluttons. Eventually their intake will harm them physically. Spiritually, the analogy holds true as well. Those who are continually fed the truth but never share with others will be stagnated in their spiritual growth.
Share in suffering
– It’s totally appropriate to acknowledge our pain and suffering. For example, “I’m really hurting. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through.” Or, “I feel like God has abandoned me,” or “It’s hard to see any good in this.” The Psalmists expressed their pain, like David did in Psalm 22: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. (1,2) I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. (14, 15) David felt forsaken. Yet almost without exception, after David mourns his afflictions, he goes on to express confidence in God: Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. (3-5) In other words, though I’m suffering you are holy. And you’re on your throne. No one’s ever been disappointed by trusting you. David says, “Lord, I’m suffering here. I don’t understand why you don’t answer my prayers. Yet I know you’re trustworthy and you hear my cries and in the end I’ll praise you.” We need God’s grace to do this. His grace strengthens us. Express your pain honestly. But frame your pain with the with biblical truth of God’s character. That’s how we glorify God. (From The Blazing Center)
Soldiers, Athletes, and Farmers
– Goal of a soldier: Please the King
– Method of a soldier: Focus on the goal
– Method of an athlete: Follow the rules
– Method of a farmer: Work hard
– This verse has at times been used as a call away from “secular” pursuits in business, athletics, or otherwise. The Bible, however, does not allow Christians to separate life into distinct realms, “spiritual” and “secular.” All of life is to be lived spiritually, in obedience to the Spirit according to the Word of God. Paul is warning Timothy here, not to avoid so-called secular activities, but to not allow distractions, even spiritual distractions, to keep him from coming before the throne of grace, finding time to fall in love with the Savior, and discipling others. When good things take the place of “best” things, even they become idols and therefore sin in our lives.
Remember the Gospel
“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you.’…The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast down’– what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’– instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: ‘I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.’” –D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
– C.J. Mahaney – “if there’s anything in life that we should be passionate about, it’s the gospel. And I don’t mean passionate only about sharing it with others. I mean passionate about thinking about it, dwelling on it, rejoicing in it, allowing it to color the way we look at the world. Only one thing can be of first importance to each of us. And only the Gospel ought to be.”