Season After Pentecost: The Epistle Passage – Paul’s confidence and source of courage

As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (II Timothy 4:6-8)

This past Saturday I talked about the psalmist’s attitude, the confidence of being well in-line with God’s tenets and law. And it struck me that such confidence is a little over reaching. I do not say the same thing about Paul, because Christian and religious history has proved him to be a major presence. But still, that confident grates just a little; let me hasten to say that Paul hastens to say that all will given the crown of righteousness if they have remained faithful to God’s tenets and guidance. And, Paul is writing to Timothy in whom he confesses much.

There again, we have the theme of confession/penance/forgiveness. But Paul puts a little bit of a spin on it. In longing for the day that the Lord, the righteous will come, we are put in line of continual confession, taking on penance, and receiving the forgiveness that the Lord has for us. Do not think that just because the Lord is a righteous judge that there is not a place for grace and mercy.

At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Verses 16 – 18)

The Lord “stood” by Paul when all human others deserted him. And Paul passes on to those the grace and mercy that is with the Lord when he states he hopes it will not be counted against those who left him. And there is confidence here too that the Lord will rescue Paul each time.

I would not wish to have the confidence and attitude of the psalmist. Still, several days later I distance myself from it, although I can see and understand why the psalmist might say what was said. But Paul’s “confession” I can take. And wish it for my own. Indeed, some days I feel I am “poured out” and the time of my “departure” is at hand. But the Lord does sustain me. And has seen me through each trial. However, the “crown of righteous” I cannot claim, and that I will be saved from every evil attack is not something I can be certain of. The presence and the strength of the Lord is there, and for me that is enough. Selah!