I’ve read and studied 2 Timothy loads of times. But one of the things I love about the Bible is the way God by his Spirit tunes our hearts to old truths newly seen as we read scripture again and again. I’ve been reading and studying 2 Timothy again for our Gospel Group series for the summer term. And what has come across freshly and vibrantly is the need for Timothy to pursue Jesus not for his ministry but for himself.
Paul writes in 1v5 about Timothy’s “sincere faith” and its familial roots. And reminds Timothy of his salvation and calling to a holy life not because of what he has done but because of God’s purpose and grace (1v9). He calls on Timothy to keep the pattern of sound teaching and guard the good deposit entrusted to you in chapter 1 and verse 13-14.
Then in very first verse of chapter 2 Paul calls Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and in verse 8 to remember Jesus. Again and again Paul speaks to Timothy not just of his ministry, this is not a practical how to pastoral epistle with lessons on taking funerals and awkward members meetings or planning preaching programmes. This is a letter to encourage the minister of Christ to love Jesus not for ministry but for themselves. To remember Jesus and his resurrection, kingship and kingdom. It is a call to Timothy to be strengthened by the grace of God not to try to live and labour in his own strength.
Sometimes ministry with all it’s pressures and tick boxes and administration and ‘keeping up with the latest books, theology, heresy…’ gets in the way. Paul’s letter is pastoral in that it is personal, yes he is concerned with Timothy’s ministry, but he is first and foremost concerned with Timothy personally. Remember Jesus Paul writes to him, as if a pastor could ever forget we think, and yet they are the words Paul writes. In your ministry don’t forget Jesus your Saviour. That is obviously a very real danger for Paul to have to write it, and he does so in a letter that names those who have put their hand to the plough of ministry and turned back, who once served but no longer continue too.
Pastor remember Jesus, be strengthened in yourself by his grace. Elders do everything to help one another remember Jesus, don’t just get straight down to business when you meet but help one another remember Jesus and be envisioned and strengthened by God’s grace not in a perfunctory way but really and deeply and joyfully. Churches encourage your pastor to remember Jesus don’t load him up with so many expectations and tasks that he doesn’t have time to, shipwreck or burn out surely follows, do everything you can to generously facilitate his growing faith and grasp of grace and joy in Jesus not just in ministry. That kind of pastor will ultimately serve you best and will receive the victors crown.