By L&T Columnist Gary Damron
The book of Second Timothy was written from prison during dark times for Christians and was the last known letter of the apostle Paul. He offered concrete suggestions for believers to regain the wonder they’d had in the early days of their salvation.
Before getting to his three recommendations, I want to first mention a portion of the scripture, 2 Timothy 2:10-13 that dealt with the mistaken notion that only some people were “elected” to receive salvation. Christ chose to save all, and is “not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9), but not all the elect respond. So, Paul endured everything for their sake, “that they might obtain salvation.” There is judgment for all, but Paul tells them there’s no lack of faithfulness on God’s part.
The only way to lose the security of His love is to remove ourselves by denying our faith and our dependency on him.
The first rule to living spiritually is to recharge with the fact that God loves us and is faithful. The key verse in the passage sounds active, but is written in the Greek passive voice: “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1). Drowning people are easier to save when they stop flailing and fighting the rescuer. The best way to be strong spiritually is to rest in, abide in, and place our life in, the grace of God. In other words, do absolutely nothing. There’s no way we can earn grace, no magic number of good works we can “do” to earn heaven.
Another way to strengthen our life spiritually is to retell the story of how Jesus saved us. When I was a kid my dad pushed me toward shore to save me from drowning, and decades later it’s inspiring enough that I still mention that day. Billy Graham is 95 years old, but can recount those in a succession of individuals – starting in 1885 with the conversion of Dwight L. Moody – who were influential in his becoming a Christian.
Finally, resist distractions. One would think the greatest threat to living a spiritual life would be temptations, persecutions and trials. But I’d say the biggest hazard is diversion or preoccupation. This may begin as a subtle shift, but the result is our joy is drained away. Paul used a number of analogies – a soldier whose focus remains on his commander; a husbandman or farmer who’s faithful to tend his crops; an athlete whose eyes are fixed on the prize and plays by the rules.
The lavish grace poured out by God gives us hope to endure any difficulty. Paul was in chains, but still preached freedom. He knew he would die but was convinced God is not dead. He encouraged us to rise above circumstances, focus on Christ, and live intentionally for God.
If you want an inspirational example of someone who overcomes difficulties and distractions by trusting in God’s grace, look up Nick Vujicic on YouTube. Or Google “no arms no legs no worries”. Nick tells his audiences, “Be thankful, dream big, never give up.” Without arms or legs he has become God’s voice.