“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it,
and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (II Timothy 3:14 – 15)
Sitting with Paul again. Not on a Friday night, and not at the end of the week. The letters to Timothy show a different side of Paul; not exactly nurturing and paternal, but something like it. I don’t mean that Paul did not show care and nurture to the churches he wrote to. That comes through. But with Timothy, it is personal. Paul knows him the way a parent would know a child, or a god-parent (which come to think of it, that’s probably how Paul felt) would know their god-child – small “g”.
I was reminded just today of how a parent feels writing to a child. I wrote to my daughter just a short note, and signed it “love, mom.” Each time I feel amazed afresh that I have children to write that to, because you see I have had so many notes from my mother signed the same way, and it feels me with awe, love, and responsibility to have that type of relationship to another person – parent to child where I am the parent!
“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.” (Verses 16 – 17)
And in turn, God is a Parent to us, and as Paul says uses scripture to teach and nurture us.
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you:
proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching.” (Chapter 4, verses 1 – 2)
But not all of us are preachers, or teachers; at least not by calling and profession. All parents teach in some capacity or another. This teaching lays the foundation of further learning. Paul notes earlier in this passage how Timothy learned about God and how to learn about God through scripture. This was from the teaching of his mother and grandmother. Paul, founding Timothy an apt pupil, teaches him further concerning God and being a minister/missionary for God.
“For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.” (Verses 3 – 4)
Paul says/predicts that in the future people will follow what teaching agrees with their own purpose and agenda, and leave behind the sound teaching of the scripture and the preachers/teachers/ministers that God has called out.
4:5 As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.
Often times the way Paul ends his letters is the way I would end my letters to a mentee or someone I was nurturing and teaching. I do not see myself in that role with you, beloved reader, but Paul’s encouragement is appropriate to anyone living in this world; because while we may not call it as such, each one of us has a “ministry” in this world – simply living and glorifying God is a calling all are suited for. Shalom!