The Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

2 Timothy 1:6-7

The Spirit the Elder Should Have

We will remember from Paul’s first letter to Timothy that the young man was in a difficult church—there are such churches, you know.  He had primarily to deal with a group within the church who were causing division by returning to legalism in the form of ascetic practice (don’t eat this; don’t get married) and arguing over insignificant matters like genealogies (1 Timothy 1:3-8; 4:1-3).  The trouble with troubles in a church is that there is oftentimes not a whole lot a pastor can do about it.  Even the Apostle Paul struggled mightily with the church at Corinth—a church which he had founded—but to which he had to write four letters and pay painful visits in order to right the ship.  And in the course of doing so, a pastor can feel like he is in the frying pan.  With truth it has been said, nothing hurts more than the bite of a sheep.

It is hard to know exactly why Paul wrote these words.  Timothy is often painted as a young and timid pastor who was struggling to assert himself in a difficult situation.  We’ll never know.  People need encouragement even when they are doing the best they can.  One way a pastor might find encouragement in the midst of difficult times and seasons of doubt is to look back to his ordination—the laying on of hands—which Paul does here.  “Fan into flame the gift of God which is in you,” Paul says.  Whether the gift to which Paul refers was given Timothy by God through Paul’s hands as an Apostle I will not gainsay.  That Timothy was gifted by God to be an elder is established, that he was set apart for such service is obvious, and it is this which the Apostle calls him to remember that he might find strength and encouragement to say to himself, “Yes, I am called to be a pastor and God has placed me here.”

Then Paul says the most encouraging words, “For God gave us not a spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.”  This power is not the strength that caused David to kill the lion and the bear but the strength that endures hardship and trial; it is the strength God gave Paul to weather all the difficult circumstances he endured (2 Corinthians 11:22-33).  At the root of this power is love, for it is the love of Christ for us and in us that allows us to love those who hurt us, who have strayed, who have embraced false teachings.  And it is self-control which keeps us even-tempered even in the midst of storms from lashing out at others even when they wrong us while looking to the One who is the Chief Shepherd of the church.  Be strong and courageous pastor; has He not sent you (Joshua 1:5-7)?

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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