Living in Christ

2 Timothy
1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

We have an interesting passage before us today and one that should hold a special place in our hearts whether we are young Christians or old Christians, male or female, in the workforce or retired. What Paul says in chapter 2 verse 1 is for each of us and we should take it to heart. After verse 1 Paul explains more of what he means and gives some imperatives that will help us to live out verse 1. It all flows and it is helpful.

Here is what he begins with, and what I hope we can all embrace together. He says, “You then, my child” – let me first stop there. Notice how Paul addresses Timothy. “You then, my child.” How personal that is. “You” We can overly, I think, overly analyze this and talk only of the great compassion that Paul had for this younger man Timothy. But knowing that this is God’s Word and inspired directly by the Holy Spirit, we can see that God Himself has a special word for Timothy, not just Paul, right?

God Himself, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, has a word for Timothy, and not just any kind of word, but words that communicate endearment, love, compassion, care, concern. God is interested in this man, Timothy.

It is easy, I think, for us at times to forget that God is personal, that God is involved with us, I mean as individuals. We forget what He has told us. Things like:

Psalm 139
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

Matthew 10
30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.

Matthew 6
31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

God knows our every need, He knows all our needs. That is really personal, isn’t it? That is the point I am making. God know us. God knows Timothy and He is speaking to Timothy through the Apostle Paul when he uses these words: ”You then, my child.” When we pick up God’s Word we should take it personally, because that is how it is given.

Life can be so hard and so hectic, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. And for me, I know that many times after a hard day it is refreshing to slip away into my office, sit in my chair and just pick up God’s Word and be refreshed by it, it is my God communicating to me through His Word. That is refreshing.

But if we see God’s Word as something cold, rote, and for someone else, like it is not personal for us, then we will not take it in as God intends for us to. God gave us His Word because He is deeply interested in communicating to us, and in an intimate way. So when you read this, when you read from 2 Timothy 2:1 these words – ”You then, my child” – just stop and think about God’s love and care even for you.

So what does our heavenly Father want for you?

2 Timothy 2
1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,

He wants us to be strong. Though this is a word, a command for Timothy to be strong, it is a consistent command for all of God’s children. We are again and again in the Word told to be strong. For instance, Ephesians 6:10 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”

But notice what both of these verses are saying. Yes be strong, but how? In 1 Timothy 2:1 – by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. In Ephesians 6:10 – in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

The world tells us, “Be strong,” “You can do anything you set your mind to,” “Be strong, stand up for yourself.” It is not unusual to hear people outside of the faith say these things. We may tell our children, “Be strong, don’t let people push you around.” We may tell our friends who are hurting, “Be strong, you can handle this.” But what is often left out or ignored is to talk about from where our strength comes, and that is important.

Let’s be honest, we can talk about being strong but really, we all have breaking points. We really aren’t that strong. We may appear so, we may give a visual impression of strength, but we all feel weakness in certain ways. Maybe with the loss of a loved one, maybe with the loss of a job, maybe when you feel betrayed, we all have points of weakness, and so if our strength only comes from us, we will fail to be strong and fail often.

But if our source of strength is Jesus Himself, then that changes everything. Have you ever read the New Testament, the many accounts of Jesus walking and ministering on this earth and wished for such strength? Well, here you go. He wants you to have it too! And more than that, He actually offers it to you! And even more, He commands that you take it! These are commands!

2 Timothy 2
2 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,

Ephesians 6
10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”

Incredible commands, this is what God wants for you, and for me! He wants you and me to be strong with His strength!

What is this grace that Paul speaks of that is necessary for our strength? It is God’s unmerited favor to help the needy. We are in need of Him for strength, and He is willing and even desirous to help us. How great is that?

Holding on to Christ, that is where our power is, being connected to Him. If we are unplugged from Him we lose the power.

Timothy will need this grace for strength to fulfill his calling just as you and I will need it too. Timothy is to do this with the grace of strength.

2 Timothy 2
2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

Just reading this brings up a question. For what do we need God’s strength? Think about Timothy’s life. He is in a hard place, called by God to minister in a very difficult, hostile culture. He was being opposed, and some were leaving the truth to follow lies. For what did he need strength? He needed it to do God’s will, to live out his calling. You could say, he needed God’s strength simply to obey God. We may want to be strong for a lot of reasons, but is our primary reason because we truly want to simply obey our Lord?

I say this because we can want strength for all kinds of things that may not be in keeping with God’s will. We may want strength to accomplish big things or strength to do something to make us look good, or to get out of a hard situation. But how often do we simply want the strength of God’s might just to do His will as He sees fit? Strength to obey Him, strength to submit to Him, strength to love Him more.

Timothy needed God’s strength to follow Paul’s example of faith and to pass on truth to faithful men who would then be able to pass that same truth on to the next generation. Ultimately that is what we are all called to in some form, that is to make the truths of God known to those around us. This is what the Psalmist said in Psalm 145:

Psalm 145
1 I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.

It is our highest calling while here on this earth to make our Lord known, that is, telling others of His goodness, of His ways! This is what it means to glorify God. And this telling is with our words and with our lives. It is in what we say and in what we do. Paul is commending Timothy to teach others about God who will then teach even more people about God, and the Psalmist is declaring similarly, ”One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.“

Putting verses 1 and 2 together, it is a rather simple idea. Live in the Lord’s strength and in His grace and tell others of His ways. Sounds pretty simple, right?

Well, it is not always easy, in fact it rarely is, which is why we need His strength to do it! Why is it hard? Because apart from God’s grace, again, we are weak, we are selfish, we are stubborn, we are lazy in spiritual matters. We are a dependent people, even as Christians we are dependent on our Lord. Our tendencies are to be like the Galatians whom the Lord reprimanded.

Galatians 3
1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?

Here is the problem: the problem as we see in Galatians is that we are saved in faith and then we, in our arrogance and pride, think we can then live in our flesh. We receive this wonderful miraculous new birth in Christ and then we think we can take it from there. We can fail on so many fronts thinking we are strong on our own when we are not.

It reminds me of taking my grandkids on a tractor ride. I am working the clutch, shifting gears, controlling the throttle, while they are holding the steering wheel. At this point they aren’t really even steering much, they are just holding it and moving it as I move it. They think they are doing what? They think they are driving the tractor. But the reality is that I am driving the tractor and they are thinking they’re driving the tractor. If I gave them the key and sent them out to the tractor, they wouldn’t have much success. Even if they could start it, it would be very dangerous on their own. They need help, a lot of help.

Why do we think we can handle life on our own with any good result? We weren’t made for that, and the good news is, Christ stands ready to give us all the strength we need to do His will. That is the beauty of the Christian life, it is that we are not on our own, we are not even our own, we were bought with a price, the price of the blood of our Savior. He is our Master, He is our Lord, and He stands ready to lead, guide, and strengthen us. So, if you are floundering through life right now, then take hope. Christ is ready to help you with His strength. He knows your needs, He knows you, everything about you, and He is ready to help. Will you cry out to Him for His strength? Will you admit your need, will you humbly rely on Him?
In the verses that follow, that we won’t get to this morning, Paul is going to go on to describe to Timothy and to us, more about what the Christian life looks like by giving three examples. One example is that of a soldier, another is an example of an athlete, and lastly an example of a farmer. These three, which we will pick up with next time, will help us to better understand what it means to rely on our Savior in our day to day living.

2 Timothy
1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.