Timothy was in a rough place. He was a young, timid, fearful man put in a public place of ministry, dealing with tough issues such as conflict, politics, false teachers, and personal attacks. Older men belittling him for his youth and young men relying on him to train them. There were people in need and it was a stressful job. He had a weak stomach, which could have been ulcers from all the anxiety he was experiencing. His mentor, Paul, was miles away in prison for proclaiming the good news of Jesus, and Timothy knew this could be his fate as well; at one point he even was imprisoned for the gospel. So Paul wrote to Timothy, to instruct and encourage him. What did he say? What would have helped Timothy stay strong in hard times?
In 2 Timothy 2:8-10, Paul wrote, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” The best and most encouraging news is to remember Jesus. He rose from the dead! God is powerful over death, death has no victory. He (and His people) win in the end. No matter how hard it would be, Timothy could say, “We win.” Jesus is also the offspring of David, the promised Messiah to come, and God is faithful to keep His promises. Timothy could remember, “God won’t abandon or forsake me, He will keep His word.” This would be a great encouragement for him in his struggling. And Timothy could rely on the fact “God’s word is not bound.” Nothing will stop God and His Word going forward, accomplishing its purpose. He was called to endure, just as Paul was, and if Paul could do it, so could Timothy. It’s for a great cause, that God will save His people. He could make it one more day.
Paul continued with an early hymn in vv. 11-13. “The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” Timothy knew he would live with Christ, no matter what happened. He would reign with Christ if he could hang in there. A warning could be a strong motivator, and he was warned not to deny his Lord and Savior. But even if he did stray and falter, if only for the briefest of moments, God would remain faithful to him and the promises He made.
Are you in a rough place today, like Timothy? Do you need encouragement and strength to endure? Paul’s words to Timothy can speak to you. Remember Jesus, risen from the dead. If you are in Christ, you win in the end! Remember Jesus, the promised Messiah to come. God keeps His promises. His Word is living and active, giving life and strength and nourishment to all who would hear and read. If you are in Christ, you will live with Him and reign with Him. He remains faithful to Himself and you, even in the hardest of times.