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If God wonderfully calls and equips us, then why do we have so many problems following Jesus?
Key words: serve, ashamed, service, gospel, saved, Christ, serve, timidity, fear, ministry, problems, personal, suffering
“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8 NASB).
This is part two of a five part series. Study questions are also included. Audio and video can be found in our huge BFF New Testament Library.
The first thing Paul does here, after he properly reminds Timothy that proper equipping is not the problem is to more clearly identify his problem. He quickly mentioned it before: timidity, fearful, ashamed. In verse 7 Paul says God did not give him or any of us a spirit of timidity. This is not from God. One might come to think of timidity as a special gift since it can be likened to humility but it is not. The spirit of God brings power, love and self-control. The devil provides counterfeits.
• Power says I can do it.
• Love prioritizes our actions on caring for others over our guarded concerns for ourselves.
• Self-control reminds us how we can make our bodies do certain things that are proper even though uncomfortable or even threatening.
Timidity secretly suggests one cannot do it. Timidity focuses our lives on ourselves rather than on others as love does. Timidity does not spur us on to obedience–doing what God wants–but makes disobedience look like the only feasible choice.
Paul goes beyond this, however, and specifically identifies how his timidity is affecting his life decisions. “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner” (2 Timothy 1:8). Because of certain fears Timothy is slightly ashamed and withholding full support. We will speak more of this in the next point.
Timidity is intricately connected to our Christian commitment and service. When our personally learned response patterns are not properly retrained by the Spirit of God and biblical thinking, we will not be able to fully utilize those things with which He has equipped us to accomplish those things He calls us to do.
Surely this passage spurs us to consider, “What things might affect my life so that I am not willing to fully embrace God’s empowering?” What is it that Timothy feared?
Several associated faith problems develop here. Fear is always due to a lack of faith:
• Is God’s way best? Is God all-wise?
• Has God enabled me to accomplish this task?
• Do I believe I could do this through God’s grace?
Let me do a little defining before going on. I have used the phrase ‘learned responses.” By this I am referring to the way that we learn things when small. I have many children and note each of their timid points–the places they could use a bit more confidence.
They have their strengths, but they also have their weaknesses. As a parent, I easily spot them. I can remember telling different children when they are facing different problems: “Don’t worry about that!” or “Don’t be afraid of that.” “Oh, you can do that.”
They do not always trust me. They instead trust their subjective feelings. Some troublesome areas go away, but other areas linger on or even worsen. Satan uses our vulnerabilities to trounce upon us and hold us back be cause he doesn’t want us to do the works of the Lord.
Surely, if Timothy, a pastor with all these giftings had this problem, we can too. It regularly happens because the evil one plays upon our lives like a voodoo master sticking pins into the doll trying to manipulate it.
A learned behavior is a way a person regularly responds to some situation or feeling so that one’s response is rather fixed and immediate, requiring less notice each time the situation comes around. By learned, we are not saying that it cannot be changed. The opposite is true. God is with us to learn a better way to respond to these areas to replace Satan’s suggested ways.
Timothy was ashamed, or tempted to be ashamed of two things: do not be ashamed (1) of the testimony of our Lord, and (2) of me (i.e. Paul) His prisoner. In challenging situations fear tends to prevent us from properly acting. Timothy was being tempted here. He could tone down the message of the cross and dissociate himself with Paul as many others had done (2 Timothy 3:10-13; 4:9-10).
When Timothy thought of how others thought of him and no doubt the possible consequences of association, he increasingly felt that he shouldn’t say or do something. This fear, possibly connected to being shunned or ill-treated, was starting to spread through the churches (2 Timothy 4:16).
Is this not some of the problems we face now in our increasingly secular culture where the message of Christ and association with the people of God might hold back your career, success or acceptance? Fears focus on how others might respond to you and will, if tolerated, keep you back from glorifying the Lord with open obedience.
• Are there learned responses that keep you back from going forward in your Christian life?
• Are there any particular fears that haunt you and keep you make from ministering to others?
Next: => C) Solve the Problem (1:8b)
This article is one of hundreds waiting for you to read from the BFF New Testament Library. The library includes audio, powerpoints and videos.
Three Stages of Discipleship
The Heart of True Discipleship (Isaiah 50:4-7)
The Plan of Discipleship (2 Timothy 2:2)
Seven Principles to Spirit Dependent Teaching
Combating Spiritual Decline
Understanding the Cycle of Decline and Revival (Judges 2)
Determining your place in the cycle of growth
Discipling your sons: The why and way (8)
Reviving your Personal Devotions (15)
Spiritual Warfare: General Principles
THE FLOW: The whole process by which disciples grow as a church or individually.
Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted:
(C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988