The Lord answers prayers. Today at the Gospel Coalition, John Piper preached a soul-stirring message on Timothy’s timidity and Paul’s encouragement. Think about it… Timothy is naturally discouraged. And God gives him a gift, one that Piper would argue is supernaturally provided courage. I haven’t heard the passage exposited before, and this was a great introduction. There’s still some material I need to digest and process, but the Holy Spirit was moving in my life. It was the perfect answer to yesterday’s blog post… what I asked for at the conference (a radical recentering around the Gospel in public) is taking place in my heart.
Just distilling some thoughts: courage is inferred to be the thing that Timothy was gifted with. When Paul says “fan the flame of the gift that is in you”, he also tells Timothy to be encouraged and courageous. Piper, in his usual pithy way, argued that Paul wouldn’t just throw these verses around. There was a deliberate way he was using his words. Can you imagine, being mentored by Paul and being like a son to him? And then receiving this letter, possibly the last you would ever get from your adopted dad. That’s pretty intense. So, we can reasonably infer that Paul wasn’t just giving throwaway sentences. He was building a case for himself as Timothy’s example of godliness.
Also, I never made the familial connection that Paul makes. I understand that by emphasizing the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother, Paul is deafeningly (and probably deliberately) silent about Timothy’s father. But this leaves Paul a place to claim Timothy as his own son. Almost as if he’s saying “Timothy, I know you never had a dad to model faith for you. So here I am… I’m your dad.” Wow. Trembling as I heard this concept. Must still think through it, though it makes good sense with the flow of the text.
And then, of course, Piper highlighted the grace of God in all of Christian life. The power behind the Christian life, behind Timothy’s fanning of the flame so that he would speak boldly and endure through the resulting suffering, was God’s grace. Piper made a compelling case that this grace was found in the Word itself. In the epistle that Paul was writing to Timothy. God’s power manifests itself in the grace that is poured out on us through the Word so that we might speak and suffer wholeheartedly for Christ.
Finally, just the overwhelming weight of God’s sovereignty hits me. Hard. God is working in eternity, as Piper says “before the stars were made”, to make Timothy an effective minister. And this is my encouragement, our encouragement in ministry. Christ had me in mind before creating the universe. To save me. To send me out as a proclaimer of Gospel. To continuously sanctify me and finally glorify me. All in His minds eye. If that’s not power, than power doesn’t exist. And if that power isn’t motivation for my personal holiness… wow. How could I not want to live a life that would highlight and bring glory to Him and show the riches of His grace? That should be a standard MO for myself. For all Christians.
Thank God for answering prayer… I’ll type more tomorrow.