2 Timothy 1:1-7 The key to success is divine authority, not human endorsement
2 Timothy 1:1-7 The key to success is divine authority, not human endorsement
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.
Paul writes a personal letter in his capacity as apostle beckoning Timothy to come to him. Apparently, Paul penned the letter while awaiting his death sentence to be passed. And the departure of close associates at the time when he needed them heightened his suffering. Nevertheless, Paul draws comfort from the prospect of seeing his most capable disciple. In this introductory section, Paul asserts his apostolic authority charging Timothy to kindle afresh the gift of God within him. Today’s devotion teaches us the key to success is divine authority, not human endorsement.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus.
Paul writes the letter to Timothy in his capacity as apostle. Notwithstanding the intimacy of their relationship, Paul asserts his authority as an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. The way Paul addresses himself here is significant as the church is rightly built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus as the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). By invoking his apostleship, he exercises divine authority and charges Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (see 2 Timothy 4:5). Indeed, for Timothy to succeed in his ministry, he must submit under Paul’s apostolic authority.
Longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy.
Paul expressed his deep desire to see Timothy, so that he may be filled with joy. The reason for their profound connection is their shared vision and desire for the salvation of all men. The tears that Timothy shed in Paul’s presence attested to their shared passion. Elsewhere, Paul is seen to have derived great satisfaction in contributing to and fellowshipping with like-minded believers,
“For I long to see you… that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Romans 1:11-12
“if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” Philippians 2:1-2
For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.
In pointing out the sincere faith within Timothy, Paul reveals a shared value; that which undergirds his own ministry: I serve with a clear conscience. A minister of clear conscience and sincere faith serves not out of a selfish agenda but for God’s kingdom purposes. For such a one is energised by God’s love and the desire to see all men saved. Paul’s conclusion concerning Timothy is assured by the legacy of his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice. Apparently, Timothy’s compliance under the guidance of his godly parents serves as substantial evidence to Timothy’s true calling.
For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
For this reason refers to the foundation of sincere faith. And it is upon this foundation that Timothy kindle afresh the gift of God. The gift of God is equivalent to the anointing, the divine grace that accompanies a minister. It is through this divine gift that men and women of God discharge their missions. This gift is undergirded by the victory that Christ gained through the cross when He disarmed rulers and principalities of darkness (Colossians 2:15). It represents divine providence, supernatural abilities, and authority over the angels. That said, the gift’s continual operation and growth requires kindling afresh. To kindle afresh is to cause to grow in magnitude and in scale. Although Timothy’s gift is received by means of Paul’s impartation, the magnitude and scale of its operation remains progressive.
It is obvious that Paul’s contribution to Timothy’s ministry is not limited to administrative empowerment, it includes divine empowerment. While Timothy’s gift has its source in God, it remains subject to Paul’s leadership: …which is in you through the laying on of my hands. That said, the continual growth of the gift is subject to Timothy’s faith and faithfulness to Paul’s charge.
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.
Paul expands on how Timothy can kindle afresh the gift of God. When Timothy soldiers on under Paul’s charge, he will experience an increase in the magnitude and scale of the gift’s operations. Thus, he urges Timothy not to be intimidated, but to press on by the Spirit’s power, love and discipline (soundness of mind).
Power (courage): The opposite of power or courage is helplessness. By staying confident that all things are possible, Timothy is able to overcome everything that opposes the truth. By the Spirit’s power, he subdues the evil forces that operate behind the opposers. Without divine power, evil cannot be defeated and the gospel becomes ineffective.
Love: Great and unstoppable power must be tempered by love. Without love, power becomes destructive. It is through the virtue of love and peace that power finds meaning and direction, the end of which is salvation for all.
Discipline (sound mind): A person of sound mind does not yield to sudden impulses. For all his actions are undergirded by sound thinking. A sound mind lends precision and wisdom to the operation of power, it is likened to a scalpel in the hands of a surgeon. But power in the hands of an ill-disciplined person becomes unpredictable causing confusion and chaos.
The key to success is divine endorsement, not human approval
Paul’s success is observed by his astute use of apostolic authority. Paul’s authority come by way of divine endorsement to execute judgment; he warned the arrogant Corinthians of possible discipline, “What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness?” 1 Corinthians 4:21. The content of the letter to Timothy is no doubt intimate and confessional, it is nonetheless saturated with apostolic undertones. Nothing can be more damaging to young Timothy if Paul did not enforce in Timothy’s mind his apostolic authority. For Timothy to be successful, he must perceive Paul’s teachings and instructions as coming directly from God. Thus, it is paramount that Paul preserve his apostolic standing among the churches.
Some leaders in order to gain the endorsement of their charges, resort to excessive friendliness. Consequently, their words no longer carry weight like they used to. In principle, a leader possesses inherent authority and needs no permission to reign over their charges. However, effective use of authority necessitates the virtue of love and sound thinking.
That said, all believers carry a measure of divine authority in their respective trades and professions. And you are to discharge your responsibilities unapologetically through the gift that God has given you. However, you as a leader can relate intimately and even confessionally with your charges, but to the extent that they do not disrespect you. Because familiarity breeds contempt, it is easy to take for granted those who are affable and friendly. Therefore, leaders must exercise wisdom and discernment when relating to their charges.
We grow in the gift by being faithful to the directives given through an appointed authority.
Timothy acquired the gift when Paul ordained him by the laying of his hands. Timothy, by accepting the laying of Paul’s hands submits himself under Paul’s leadership. As long as Timothy remains faithful to the divine directives given by Paul, he will continue to grow in the gift. Here lies the principle: the gift of God or divine authority must be humanly administered through a system of accountability. Jesus delegated divine authority to His 12 disciples (see Luke 9:1) who were directly accountable to him. For in that same way the Father sent Jesus as Apostle into the world, Jesus dispatched His 12 disciples (Hebrews 3:1, John 18:18, 20:21). Thus, it follows for one who is not a disciple, receives neither impartation nor the means to kindle afresh his gifts and abilities.
Many tried acquiring the gift by associating themselves with gifted ministers but to no avail. They supposed the gift of God can be gotten through emulation without becoming a disciple. On the contrary, no gifts can be acquired through the will of man, but only when it’s divinely imparted through discipleship. Timothy possesses a shared vision with Paul and thus, as Paul’s disciple, he received the gift through him. And Timothy will continue to grow in the gift under Paul’s leadership. The system of discipleship builds the necessary foundations of courage, love and sound thinking, which insure the proper use of spiritual gifts in Christendom.
Since divine authority is the key to success… How then do leaders grow in divine authority? By being kind and principled in all that they say and do. Proverbs says,
Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man. Proverbs 3:3-4
To grow in divine authority is to find favour and good repute before God and man. Therefore, in all circumstances, and even in times of conflict, take yourself out of the equation while dealing kindly and justly with all parties. And you will grow in divine favour and repute before God and man.
Prayer for disciples:
Dear Lord, I commit myself as a faithful disciple under my church. I adopt the vision of my church as my personal vision. I am contented with the gift that you have given me and will fully utilise it for your kingdom’s purposes. Help me kindle afresh my gifts as I serve with the Spirit of power, love and a sound mind. Amen.
Prayer for leaders:
Dear Lord, I will endeavour to use divine authority to discharge my responsibilities in my church and workplace. In whatever circumstances, I will seek your endorsement, not man’s. In times of conflict, do not let kindness and truth leave me. Cause me to grow in favour and good repute before God and man. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.