READ: 2 Timothy 1:6-12

In 2 Timothy, Paul is sending his final letter to a man he has loved and trained for many years.  As he looks back on his life, Paul realizes there are certain qualities that are essential for those who serve God.  He begins his letter reminding Timothy of the importance of zeal, courage and faithfulness.

ZEAL:  Paul has seen numerous men who were on fire for God but over time faded and turned from the faith.  That still happens today.  It could happen to anyone.  In 2 Timothy 1:6 Paul encouraged Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God.”  He told him to keep using the unique set of spiritual gifts God gave him (1 Peter 4:10).  After years of battling the world, the flesh and Satan, a person can become weary and discouraged.  Cowardice and fear are tools of Satan’s we are to guard against.  2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and of love and of self -discipline” is a good verse to memorize and quote when facing fear.  Timothy lacked confidence in himself (1 Corinthians 6:10-11; 1 Timothy 4:12) and needed to depend on God’s power, love and self-control.  So must we.  This verse has helped me through my struggles with fear, and it can help you as well.

COURAGE: This is the first of 3 exhortations Paul gave Timothy (1:8-12; 1:13-14; 2:1).  His command is “do not be ashamed”  (2 Timothy 1:8).  Timothy was criticized by unbelievers for his faithfulness to Jesus and by false teachers for his faithfulness to Paul.  Jesus said “Woe to you when all men speak well of you” (Luke 6:26).  Following Jesus, and Paul, often means persecution and opposition.  Paul stated that “All who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution”  (2 Timothy 3:12).  Paul reminded Timothy that anything he achieved in ministry was not his own doing but God’s, he could not take credit for it himself (verse 9).  That is a sobering and humbling thought for us as well.  All we have comes from His unconditional love and grace.  God chooses those who will come to Him for salvation, and out of them He chooses some to minister for Him.  It is a great privilege and honor to be chosen.  Charles Spurgeon once said, “If God has called you to be His servant, don’t stoop to be a king.”  Serving the King of Kings is the greatest privilege one can have.

The older I get the more clearly I see the wonderful honor God has given me by choosing me to serve Him.  My own unworthiness and failures become more visible yet His all-sufficient strength and grace overcomes them all.  This should encourage us to have courage to stand despite the difficulties and opposition.  It should embolden us and give us courage to press on no matter what we face.

In 2 Timothy 1:12 Paul shared his own testimony, despite facing death for his faith:  “Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.”   This is true of us as well.  We must keep our eyes on Jesus and trust He is able to sustain us as long as he wants us alive.  That is where our courage comes from.

If you are a pastor or leader, you have to keep your zeal and courage because you will face opposition from unbelievers and believers alike.  It didn’t stop Jesus, nor did it stop Paul or Timothy.  Don’t ever let it stop you.

PAUL’S ADVICE: Don’t let your zeal and courage for ministry fade.

1 Peter 4:10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

2 Timothy 1:7   For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

How is your zeal?  Has it grown cold over the years, or is it as fresh and strong as when you first came to the Lord?

What brings the most fear into your life?  What can you do to have God’s courage to face those things?


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