Dear church,

The passing of the faith from one person to another and from one generation to another was a principal concern of the apostle Paul’s as he neared the end of his earthly life.

Indeed, that’s why we have these two letters to Timothy. Paul was instructing his co-worker and apprentice in the sharing of the gospel and the leading of churches. Paul was encouraging Timothy to continue the ministry.

Paul in the first verses of this chapter described four “generations” of Christians – Paul, Timothy, “faithful men,” and “others.” The good news was passed from one person to another to another to another.

Paul then offered three pieces of advice – three analogies – about how a sharer of the gospel must live his or her life. The analogies relate to a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer.

I take these analogies to mean a person entrusted with the gospel – an evangelist – is to be single-minded in his or her desire to share God’s Word, is to faithfully and accurately use God’s Word, and is to expect support in his or her work from the church.

You may see some other truths in those analogies. That’s, of course, why Paul urged Timothy, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”

And perhaps this is the most important thing for people who want to do the work of the ministry. We should spend a lot of time thinking.

We should think about what we’ve heard from our teachers. We should think about how best to share the gospel. We should think about the people to whom we should share the gospel.

And we should think about Scripture – about difficult passages, about things that are hard to understand at the outset.

Paul’s chief concern late in his life was the increase spread of the gospel and to do this through people other than himself. Part of what he wanted these teachers and preachers to do, what he wanted Timothy to do, was to become good thinkers.

I wonder whether we are good thinkers. How much time do you spend pondering the gospel and considering your calling in Christ?

Chris

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