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Paul's Goodbye Letter to Timothy

Today, I started reading 2 Timothy, perhaps the most emotional letter in the New Testament.  In it, Paul writes from prison to his son in the faith prior to his execution.  The letter is intimate and personal.  Paul refers to Timothy as "my dear son."  He refers to remembering Timothy's tears and states that he longs to see him so that Paul "may be filled with joy."  Paul mentions Lois and Eunice, Timothy's mom and grandmother.  Paul knows them as sisters, women of profound and sincere faith.  Paul loves Timothy's family as he loves Timothy -- for they are his family too in the Kingdom of God.  Then he writes to Timothy for the last time, ending the letter with "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.  I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith."

In some respects, 2nd Timothy is the hardest epistle to read.  It is so emotional as I read it, I cannot help but cry.  Here is Paul, the hero of the faith, the most profound missionary of all time, and the reason that I, a gentile, know of Jesus Christ.  He is about to earn his heavenly award which is a beautiful thing, as Paul writes at the end of the letter:  "The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom."  Paul is in prison.  Many of his "brothers" have deserted him (2 Timothy 1:15).  He now is in chains for the cause of Christ, and even these chains cannot stop him from proclaiming the wonderful news of Jesus Christ!

Paul is Timothy's father in the faith.  I am blessed to have a dad who is both my earthly father and my father in the faith.  My dad discipled me and taught me the ways of the Lord.  To Timothy, Paul was this figure, the one who guided him and who taught him of Christ and how to behave like a Christian.  Paul helped him know Christ and then taught him to minister for Christ.  1st and 2nd Timothy are essentially a textbook for discipleship.  This is what it is like to make a disciple of Christ.

And in the first chapter, Paul instructs Timothy, "So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord or ashamed of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel by the power of God. . . " (2 Timothy 1:8).

Paul, sentenced to death, instructs his son in the faith to commit the same crime that led to Paul's imprisonment.  Many were enemies of the Good News, and the cost of proclaiming the Gospel was often death.  So Paul tells Timothy to proclaim the Good News even unto death.

Am I so bold?  Do I proclaim the Gospel in places where it could be costly for me?  I know it would not cost my life here in the States, but could it cost my job?  And if it could, would I risk it?  Do I love others so much that their soul is more important than my employment?  Am I bold enough for Christ that I will not fear but trust the God who saved me from the wrath of God and eternal destruction?

Paul continues, ". . . by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life -- not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.  And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.  This is why I am suffering as I am.  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" (2 Timothy 1:12).

For us, brothers and sisters, are we so bold?

I am not.  Yet, I pray that I may be more bold.  That I might truly be unashamed and unafraid,and that I may boldly proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, whatever the cost, for the cost is worth it.  I have been given the treasure of infinite value in Jesus Christ.  God forgive me if I keep such a wonderful treasure for myself!  Oh that all the world might have this treasure, the hope of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ!  

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