As Paul was writing what we have preserved as the book of 2 Timothy, he was suffering. He was in chains; locked up like a criminal though he’d committed no real crime. And He was ok with that. He was willing to go through anything if it meant people would understand the truth of who Jesus is and what only He can do in our lives. That sort of willingness to suffer is a mark of confidence in Christ, but where does that kind of confidence come from?
1.1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will. Paul recognized his calling. He wasn’t an apostle by his own choice, but by the will of God. How often do we settle for an occupation/career that is less about what God wants and more about paying the bills? That’s not to say that one job is Godly and another is not – only that whatever your job is, you are called to make disciples. Whether you’re a straight C student or a Rhodes scholar, a plumber, a pastor, or a number cruncher, by God’s will you are a disciple maker. How’s that going for you?
1.7 God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. Paul could withstand anything for the sake of Jesus because He knew He’d been given the Spirit of Jesus! The same Spirit promised to us. When I rely on myself, I can become timid and afraid. Chains scare me. But when I remember to rely on the Spirit of God living within me, what is there to fear?
1.12 I know the one in whom I trust, and am sure that He is able… Paul knew He was doing what God wanted done and that the results were up to Him. Even though he was stuck under arrest, even though most of his companions had walked away from him, Paul had confidence because he was trusting in Someone who is unshakable. He was simply doing his part in God’s mission.
2.9 But the word of God cannot be chained. The message of Jesus’ resurrection and His power to rescue humanity from death is an unstoppable message. Paul knew this. He knew He was a part of something much larger than some little upstart cult – this message He was preaching was the very word of God, a Word that cannot be tied down. (Perhaps, this is why it is so important for us to do everything we can to get to know Jesus as He’s revealed to us in Scripture.)
Paul’s confidence was rooted in an undeniable calling, a powerful and loving Spirit within Him, a sense of playing his role in a mission for which God is responsible, and an eternal message that cannot be stopped. In a day when economic and political realities offer little solid footing, may we lean back into these roots that served Paul so well. May we echo Paul:
I’ve been called by God.
I’ve been given His Spirit.
I am on a mission that will not fail.
I have a message that will not be stopped.