Guard the truth: Devotional Commentary for September 8-14
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
13Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
14That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
Paul continued to instruct Timothy on how he would fan the flame kindled in his heart by the Holy Spirit. While his spiritual upbringing and Paul's prayerful support had great significance in his spiritual formation, his life of service to God depended more on his relationship with his Savior and God's living Word. So Paul gave Timothy strong and specific instructions to follow, as he took on a crucial ministerial position at the church in Ephesus.
Paul's instructions to Timothy had two specific particulars: First, he told him to hold on to what he learned. Second, he exhorted him to guard the truth. It was necessary for Timothy to know and believe that a right understanding of the Word of God and a faithful proclamation of the Truth are the sum and substance of his ministry.
What Paul taught Timothy was wholesome and sound. It was the truth as revealed to him by the Holy Spirit. As an apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul imparted to Timothy the same doctrine he believed and the same Gospel he loved to serve. Even though Paul was Timothy's teacher and mentor, they both received the truth from the Holy Spirit by faith in Jesus Christ and in His love.
Paul cautioned Timothy to recognize the immeasurable value of the Gospel which was entrusted to his care. He told him to guard the good thing that was commended to his charge. He urged him to guard it by the Power of the Holy Spirit and proclaim the message faithfully and truthfully.
15This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
16The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain;
17but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me.
18The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day - and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus.
Drawing from his own experience of dealing with disparate people, Paul shared with Timothy why he should hold on to the Gospel and guard the truth as he leads the church and teaches the flock. He mentioned two types of people he met while he preached the Gospel. He met both friends and enemies. Paul wanted Timothy to be firmly grounded on the truth so that he might continue to rightly divide the Word without the influence of the diverse reactions from his audience.
Apparently, Timothy knew the people Paul mentioned in verses fifteen and sixteen above. He reminded Timothy how the people in Asia, perhaps present-day Turkey, were opposed to him. He singled out Phygellus and Hermogenes as the ringleaders in resisting Paul's ministry in Asia. Not much is known about these two, but their contrary behavior did not disconcert Paul. Nor should such animosities faze Timothy if he held on to the Gospel and guarded the truth in his heart.
Paul also had friends such as Onesiphorus for whom he was grateful. Paul appreciated Onesiphorus and his family for ministering to him at his time of need both in Ephesus and later in Rome. He was deeply moved by the care and devotion that Onesiphorus had showered upon him, in spite of the potential danger of associating with Paul the prisoner. Onesiphorus was not ashamed of Paul's conditions. He loved him and ministered to him with all that he can do.
Paul used these real examples to caution Timothy to be watchful. People would react to his preaching in different ways. But he must continue to teach faithfully and in love, instructing the people with sound doctrine and enduring truth. He should neither be ashamed nor intimidated. He should continue to fan the flame, hold on to sound doctrine, guard the truth, and proclaim the Gospel faithfully in the love of Christ.
Enriched by a solid spiritual upbringing, supported by the constant prayer of a caring mentor, and taught by an apostle of Jesus Christ, Timothy was called and readied for ministry. But he did not know it. He was gifted by God and ordained by the Holy Spirit. But Timothy did not know that he was made ready to lead and to teach.
Timothy was being prompted to answer God's call on his life to communicate the Gospel to the lost and to lead and teach the church where he was assigned to serve. But he did not know it just yet. Timothy was actually being prepared even to suffer for the Gospel like Paul if necessary. That did not occur to him just yet. But Paul his mentor knew it all by the revelation of the Holy Spirit and inspired his son in the Spirit to emerge out of his youthful fear and fan the flame of God's gift in him. He urged him to overcome his apprehensions and feelings of youthful inferiority by the Power of the Holy Spirit and stir up what was instilled in him by God.
While Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ and a servant of God, and while Timothy was called to be a ruling teacher of the church in Ephesus, not every redeemed individual is necessarily called to a formal office of ministry. Nevertheless, we are all witnesses of God's redeeming Grace, His Love, and His Mercy. We are certainly admonished by the Scriptures to testify before the world about our redemption and the rest we have in Christ our Savior.
We too should fan the flame of our testimonies and speak of God's Grace without fear or shame. Not only must we fan the flame, we must also stoke the fire with sound doctrine and enduring truth faithfully and courageously. We too are not given the spirit of fear or shame, but of power, love, and sound mind.
We have been called to faith in Christ by the irresistible conviction of the Holy Spirit. We have heard the Gospel and believed the Truth about our depravity as well as God's saving Grace in Jesus Christ. We have accepted salvation because we have been given the power in Jesus Christ to be God's children. Should we then neglect the testimony of our redemption and let the flame be extinguished? God forbid!
Instead, we will be vocal and active. We will actively spread the truth, faithfully guard what is entrusted to us, and even bravely suffer for it if necessary. We will tell the world that Jesus Christ our Savior is the Son of God. He is the Lamb of God Who paid the price for our redemption. We will proclaim that the Gospel is God's Voice calling the lost: "come home." We will emerge out of our self-imposed fear and shame. There is no one to fear but God. There is nothing shameful but the sinful life we left behind. We have a testimony to share. Let us fan the flame and stoke the fire. Awake! Oh child of God. Not much can we do, asleep!