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(2 Tim 1:1-7) Reprioritize: Developing Apostolic Priorities


Reprioritize: Developing Apostolic Priorities

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

2 Timothy 1:1-7

What are your priorities? What are the main things that you focus on each week?

In 2 Timothy, Paul’s introduction and initial exhortations to Timothy show his priorities. In the same way that the first paragraph of an article or research paper often tell a writer’s focus, this is true with Paul’s writing here. In the first verses we see his apostolic priorities; however, these are not just the priorities of this letter but his life.

Priorities are vital because they demonstrate what is important or less important to us and they guide our decision-making, but they also represent our future. Consider Paul’s future in 2 Timothy 4:7-8,

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Our priorities affect our future. If we have the wrong priorities in life, we’ll make wrong decisions about family, career, and ministry and ultimately miss God’s best for our life and eternity. If we imitate Paul’s priorities, then it is possible to finish our life with the same outcome—that we fought the good fight, finished the race, and will be rewarded in heaven.

Paul writes this letter during his second imprisonment in Rome. Tradition tells us that after his first imprisonment at the end of Acts, he was released for a short time, then imprisoned again and beheaded around the AD 67 at the command of Nero.[1] Unlike his first imprisonment where Paul was under house-arrest in Rome (Acts 28:16), Paul was located in a cold, damp, prison in the ground with a small opening for food to be dropped.[2] This would have been especially cold in the winter and thus why Paul probably asked for Timothy to bring a cloak (or jacket) before winter at the end of this letter (2 Tim 4:13, 21). Paul knew he was about to die. At death, our priorities or what should be our priorities often become crystal clear.

As we study Paul’s apostolic priorities in 2 Timothy 1:1-7, we must ask ourselves: “What are my priorities and do they line up with Paul’s?” Our priorities will affect where we will be in ten, fifteen, twenty, or thirty years from now, and they will affect our eternity.

Big Question: What apostolic priorities can be discerned from 2 Timothy 1:1-6, and how can we develop them in our lives?

The Priority of the Gospel

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,

2 Timothy 1:1

Paul called himself an “apostle of Christ Jesus.” The word “apostle” literally means “sent one.” Paul was under the orders of Christ.

What was Paul sent to do? What were his orders? Paul’s orders or apostolic mission was “according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus.” This means that he was called to share the promise of life—the gospel—with everyone. In fact, in Ephesians 3:7, Paul calls himself a “servant of the Gospel.” He was a gospel servant in that he lived to share the message and defend it. This should be our priority as well—we should be servants of gospel, one’s following Christ’s orders.

Application Question: How should the priority of the gospel affect our daily lives?

1. We should share the gospel with others.

No matter whether we work as a student, professor, businessman, lawyer, or homemaker we should never forget our call to share the gospel. Paul was a tentmaker, but his identity and purpose was not tied up in how he made a living. His purpose was in his apostolic call to share the gospel, and it should be the same for us. The Great Commission is to “go and make disciples,” and we all must be faithful to this call.

In Romans 15:20, we see something of Paul’s gospel strategy. He said, “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation.” His desire to preach where Christ was not known guided his mission endeavors. Similarly, in order to share the gospel, we must strategize as well. We must pray and consider how we can best reach those around us and people throughout the world.

Are you still seeking to share the gospel? Is that your priority?

2. We must model the gospel through our relationships.

The gospel is not only something we preach with words but with our actions as well. In Ephesians 5:25-26, Paul says: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word”.

Paul told husbands to live out the gospel in their marriages. They should sacrifice for their wives, just as Christ sacrificed for the church. They should serve their wives. The washing with water probably pictures how Christ washed the feet of his disciples like a servant. Husbands should teach their wives the Word and get them in Bible preaching churches, just as Christ washes his church. Marriages should demonstrate the gospel message.

In addition, Christ said this to his disciples in John 13:34: “‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Believers should demonstrate the gospel by loving one another sacrificially. No doubt, when the early church sold all they had and gave to the poor, people saw the gospel (Acts 2:44-45).

Christians must demonstrate the gospel through their relationships. Saint Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel everywhere you go, and, if necessary, use words.”

3. We must pray for others to hear the gospel and be saved.

First Timothy 2:1-4 says,

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness an holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

God is pleased when we pray for the salvation of others; therefore, we must give ourselves to this type of prayer often.

Is your priority the gospel and all people hearing it?

Application Question: What is your experience with evangelism? How would you encourage someone who said they struggled with evangelism?

The Priority of Discipleship

To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

2 Timothy 1:2-5

Paul’s second priority was discipleship. While in prison awaiting a death sentence, he most naturally would have been consumed with his impending death; however, his focus was on Timothy and his spiritual growth and ministry.

Paul calls him a “dear son” and prays for “grace, mercy and peace” over his life (v. 2). He departs from his usual greeting of “grace and peace” only when addressing individual pastors like Timothy and Titus (cf. 1 Timothy 1:4, Titus 1:4). Interestingly, “Spurgeon used this verse, along with 1 Timothy 1:2 and Titus 1:4 to show that ministers need more mercy than others do.”[3] He said:

Did you ever notice this one thing about Christian ministers, that they need even more mercy than other people? Although everybody needs mercy, ministers need it more than anybody else; and so we do, for if we are not faithful, we shall be greater sinners even than our hearers, and it needs much grace for us always to be faithful, and much mercy will be required to cover our shortcomings. So I shall take those three things to myself: ‘Grace, mercy, and peace.’ You may have the two, ‘Grace and peace,’ but I need mercy more than any of you; so I take it from my Lord’s loving hand, and I will trust, and not be afraid, despite all my shortcomings, and feebleness, and blunders, and mistakes, in the course of my whole ministry.[4]

Certainly, this should remind us to continually pray for grace, mercy, and peace for our pastors.

After this greeting, Paul describes his thoughts and memories of Timothy and his family. Many believe that Paul led Timothy to Christ during his first visit to Lystra in Acts 14; but it seems most likely that Timothy was led to faith by his Jewish Christian mother and grandmother. (Timothy’s father was a Greek unbeliever.) Paul met Timothy while on his second missionary journey in Acts 16. While there, the believers talked well about Timothy, and Paul took him as a disciple and gospel-partner. Paul later left Timothy in Ephesus as one of their pastors.

When Paul refers to remembering Timothy’s “tears,” we don’t know exactly what event Paul is talking about, but most likely it describes the time Paul was dragged off to prison in Rome.[5] Paul “longed” or “yearned” to see him like any good mentor. One commentator called it a “home-sick yearning,” which no doubt demonstrates how much Paul loved and cared for Timothy.[6]

As Paul prays for grace, mercy, and peace over Timothy, it is clear that Paul wants the best for Timothy just like any good father. This is what true discipleship is—wanting another to grow up into all the graces and callings of God.

This is hard to find. We live in a competitive society where everybody wants to be first, get the promotion, and win the race, even at the cost of relationships. Many people, including Christians, get jealous when others do well; however true discipleship means wanting God’s best for others and investing in them so they can achieve it. It means thinking about them often, praying for them, and pouring our life into them.

Christ’s Priority

As Paul focuses on discipleship right before his death, we cannot but see the same priority Christ demonstrated in his last hours. In John 17:9, Christ prays, “I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.” He goes on and prays for their sanctification through the Word, for them to be kept from the world, for their protection from the devil, and their unity. Christ’s priority in life and death was discipleship—just as it was for Paul.

Application Question: What applications can we take from Paul’s priority of discipleship?

1. Every believer should find a Timothy—a disciple.

Christ was a discipler; Paul was a discipler, and we should prioritize discipleship as well. Who are you staying up late at night thinking about and praying for? Who are you investing in?

Second Timothy 2:2 says, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”

2. Every believer should have a Paul—a mentor.

We all need older and more mature believers to invest in our lives and help us grow.

Where should we find such a people? Sometimes in the Gospels Christ approached people and said, “Follow me.” Other times, people approached him. We must take responsibility for getting around those we can learn from, watch their lives, and ask them questions. Paul said this in Philippians 3:17: “Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.”

Who are you keeping your eyes on and listening to in order to learn how to grow? Is your priority discipleship—your own and discipling others?

Application Question: Who is your Paul and Timothy? What people have made the most impact in your spiritual life?

The Priority of Thankfulness

I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.

2 Timothy 1:3

Next, we see Paul’s thankfulness. Paul said he thanked God in his prayers for Timothy all the time (night and day).

This might not seem shocking to you, but it should. Again, remember the context, Paul was in prison about to die. Most people aren’t very thankful when going through difficulty; typically, we are prone to complain, get angry at God and others, and maybe even become depressed.

Being thankful must be a priority, because if it isn’t, we won’t do it. Often we take God’s blessings for granted and therefore never give him thanks. We don’t thank him for food, shelter, family, church, etc. And because we don’t thank him when things are good, we certainly don’t thank him when things are bad. We naturally default to winning and complaining.

Paul taught the Thessalonians who were undergoing persecution for the faith, false teaching in the church, and conflict among its members to “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ” (1 Thess 5:18). This is true for us as well and, therefore, must be our priority.

Application Question: How can we practice giving thanks in all situations?

1. In order to give thanks, we must practice remembering God’s blessings.

Paul remembered Timothy and gave thanks for him. No doubt part of the reason we often lack thankfulness is because we rarely take time to remember God’s blessings. Life is so fast paced and busy, we often have little time to reflect and remember God’s goodness.

Application Question: How can we practice remembering our blessings so we can give God thanks for them?

  • Remember blessings by writing them down.

Much of Scripture is people writing down God’s acts of faithfulness such as delivering his people, conquering evil, doing various miracles, and ultimately making himself known. If we write down our blessing and answers to prayer, it helps us remember them.

  • Remember blessings by sharing them with others through testimony and song.

Psalms 105:1-2 says, “Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.” Personally, I find that I am often tremendously blessed by sharing my testimony with others. It helps me remember God’s hand over various events of my life and how he’s brought me to where I am now. It renews my focus on his grace over my many failures. Sometimes singing songs of thanks helps us do the same thing.

2. In order to practice thanksgiving, we must give thanks in trials as an act of discipline.

Romans 5:3-4 says, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds. because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

As a discipline, we must give God thanks even in difficult times because we understand God’s purpose in them. God allows waiting seasons to develop patience in us. He allows us to encounter difficult people so we can develop kindness and deepen our love. God is always developing our faith and character through hardships. And because we understand this, we can give thanks in faith.

Are you thanking God daily for both your blessings and your trials? Is it your priority? Is it your discipline?

Application Question: Why is it difficult to live a life of thanksgiving? What are you thankful for now?

The Priority of Prayer

I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.

2 Timothy 1:3

In conjunction with being thankful, Paul was prayerful. The word “constant” simply means “unceasing.” It is amplified by the phrase “night and day,” again meaning all the time.

This is a common theme in many of Paul’s letters. Consider what he says to other churches:

God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

Romans 1:9-10

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,

Colossians 1:3

Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you. We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.

1 Thessalonians 1:1-2

Timothy was Paul’s prayer partner in praying for grace over the Thessalonian churches and others. No doubt, when Timothy read of Paul’s unceasing prayer, he remembered their day and night prayer sessions. He may have even shed a tear thinking about his faithful mentor’s intercession.

But again, what we must gain from this is that it was Paul’s priority. He lifted Timothy and the churches up before God the father. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, Paul said, “Rejoice always; pray continually”.

The word “continually” in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 was used of a hacking cough in ancient Greek. It’s not that a person coughs every moment of the day; it’s that they keep going back to it. It must be the same with prayer. We must go back to it throughout the day.

Application Question: How can we prioritize prayer?

In order to prioritize prayer, we must give up other good things to practice it. A good example of this is the apostles in Acts. In Acts 6:3-4, they said this to the early church:

Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

The Greek widows were being neglected and instead of the apostles giving their time to this ministry, they had seven men selected to oversee it. The apostles gave up another ministry opportunity to focus on prayer and the ministry of the Word. They prioritized prayer over other good things.

If we are going to prioritize prayer, we may need to give up some good things as well. We may have to give up extra sleep, entertainment, fellowship, and even ministry opportunities.

Application Question: What are some disciplines that have helped your prayer life?

The Priority of a Clear Conscience

I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.

2 Timothy 1:3

Paul also prioritized his conscience. Paul mentions this often in his epistles. Consider the following:

So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.

Acts 24:16

Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God's grace.

2 Corinthians 1:12

Interpretation Question: What is the conscience and what is its function?

Romans 2:14 -16 says,

(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God judges people's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

Our conscience is a God-given faculty in man that accuses us of sin or affirms us of righteousness. This remains in mankind from being made in the image of God. God will use it to judge people at Christ’s coming.

Application Question: Why is it important to keep a clear conscience?

If we neglect our conscience, then it will cease to work properly. When that happens, it will become easier for us to sin and even fall away from God. Paul said this in1 Timothy 1:18-19:

Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.

Timothy was called to hold on to the faith and a good conscience so that he would not shipwreck his faith as others did. “Faith” probably referred both to his doctrine and trust in God. To be shipwrecked means that one stops progressing spiritually or falls away all together.

There are many Christians who are shipwrecked. They stopped listening to the Holy Spirit, as he spoke to their conscience and instead practiced sin. They started to use ungodly language, watch unhealthy entertainment, practice immorality and now their conscience doesn’t even bother them about it—it’s become hardened. They are shipwrecked and not moving in their faith. Many may never return—proving that they’re not truly saved.

In fact, Paul says that when we start to live hypocritical lives—accepting and condoning sin—it hardens our conscience in such a way that it opens doors for demonic deception. Consider 1 Timothy 4:1-2:

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.

These former Christians lived hypocritical lives for so long that their conscience completely stopped working and demons deceived them into promoting and teaching false doctrine—they became false teachers.

Are there any ways that you have ceased listening to your conscience? Are you allowing your language, relationships, entertainment, and goals to become worldly? When you do that, it puts your faith in a danger place. It is like driving a boat by high rocks—you could find yourself stranded and never get back on course.

Application Question: How can we keep a clear conscience?

1. We keep a clear conscience by practicing righteousness.

Our conscience not only condemns sin, but challenges us to do what is right. If your conscience is challenging you to get involved with the church, start serving, share the gospel, or challenge someone in sin, don’t neglect or ignore it; submit to it. By doing this, we develop a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s guidance (Phil 2:13).

2. We keep a clear conscience by forsaking our sin.

If we feel convicted about some sin, we should confess it and turn away from it.

3. We keep a clear conscience by turning away from anything, even good things, that might harm another’s conscience.

In 1 Corinthians 8:12-13, Paul said:

When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

Certainly this applies to freedoms like TV, movies, music, drinking, smoking, etc. If the use of our freedoms, might encourage others towards excess or bondage, then we should turn away from them. Christ will not hold us guiltless.

Paul’s priority was not only his conscience but others’ as well.

4. We keep a clear conscience by informing it through God’s Word.

Our conscience is not a pure moral guide. It has been affected by both our sin nature and sin we’ve experienced. For that reason, it still needs to be informed by God’s Word. The more we saturate ourselves with God’s Word, the sharper and more reliable our conscience will be.

Application Question: Share a time where you were pricked or challenged through your conscience about some issue. How can we test the promptings of our conscience?

The Priority of Serving

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

2 Timothy 1:5-6

Interpretation Question: What does “For this reason” refer to, as Paul encourages Timothy to fan into flame his gift?

Paul says “For this reason” fan into flame the gift of God. What is this reason? He seems to be describing the sincere faith Timothy had which originally was in his mother and grandmother (v. 5). Essentially, Paul was telling Timothy to serve and use his gift because he is saved. God did not save us just to go to heaven. He gave each of us a spiritual gift (if not gifts), and we must faithfully deploy it in serving Christ.

“Fan into flame” can also be translated “to kindle afresh” or “to keep the fire alive.”[7] It is very possible that Timothy was neglecting his spiritual gift and not using it as he should. This could have been because of fear or timidity as implied by the passages below or simply because of spiritual apathy.

Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

1 Timothy 4:14

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

2 Timothy 1:7

We don’t know what Timothy’s gift was but most likely it was preaching, as Paul’s emphasizes his need to preach and teach throughout 1 and 2 Timothy (1 Tim 4:13-14, 2 Tim 2:2, 2 Tim 2:15, 2 Tim 4:2-3).

Sadly, many Christians don’t serve and therefore neglect their gifts. Often, this happens because of fear as well. Like the servant with one talent in Matthew 25:25, they declare, “I was afraid” and therefore hide their gift in the ground. For many it is just spiritual laziness (cf. Matt 25:26). They are more interested in other things. Therefore, they never fulfill God’s will by serving and fanning their gifts into flame.

Application Question: How do we find our spiritual gifts?

Spiritual gifts are given for the purpose of serving and edifying the body (1 Cor 12:7). Therefore, we find them in the midst of serving. As you get involved with various ministries, you will find out what areas you have an aptitude in and the ones you don't. Typically, your spiritual gift with both edify yourself and others. Because of this, the affirmation of others is important in the discernment process. If we think that we're gifted in a certain area but others don't affirm, then we're probably not.

Interpretation Question: What does it mean to fan one’s gift into flame?

1. To fan our gifts may mean developing our gifts into their full potential.

Obviously, in keeping with the analogy of a fire getting stronger as one adds oxygen and wood, we must do the same with our gifts. Each person has a spiritual gift which they received at spiritual birth (1 Cor 12:7, 13) or, in exceptional cases, later. It seems that Timothy may have received this gift through impartation when Paul and the elders laid hands on him at his ordination (2 Tim 1:6, 1 Tim 4:14). Either way, it is each person’s job to find his gift, use it, and make it a skill.

I remember while interviewing for my first pastoral position, I was asked if I was a good preacher. I said, “Preaching is my spiritual gift but I still need to make it a skill.” A spiritual gift is like an athlete’s natural ability; the athlete must practice and be trained to develop that ability. It’s the same with our gifts, we must develop them to their full potential.

How do we develop them? We do this by continually using them. As we faithfully use them, they naturally get stronger and we develop more faith to use them. Also, we strengthen them by being trained and coached by mature believers. As they instruct and at times correct us, our gifts become stronger—they are fanned into flame.

2. To fan our gifts may also picture zeal in using them.

The metaphor of fire might also symbolize zeal. Each Christian must be zealous in the use of his gifts instead of neglecting them. Romans 12:11 says, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

Paul maybe commanding Timothy to be zealous in using his gift for the kingdom of God. Are you zealous to serve God with your gift or content to stay on the sideline? Are you cultivating your gifts into skills—maximizing their potential? One of our priorities as disciples must be cultivating our spiritual gifts.

Application Question: What are your spiritual gifts and how do you feel God has called you to use them for the kingdom of God? How can believers keep up their zeal?

The Priority of Encouragement

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

2 Timothy 1:7

“In 1 and 2 Timothy there are no less than 25 different places where Paul encouraged Timothy to be bold, to not shy away from confrontation, to stand up where he needs to stand up and be strong.”[8] Second Timothy 2:7 is one of those places. Timothy probably had a timid personality—dealing with false teachers, difficult church members, and undergoing persecution for the faith was not natural for his disposition. Therefore, Paul encouraged him with God’s resources. We must encourage ourselves and others with these same resources.

Observation Question: What resources do believers have because of God’s Spirit?

1. Believers have power through the Spirit.

In Ephesians 1:18-21, Paul prays for the believers’ eyes to be awakened to know the great power in them. It’s the same power that rose Christ from the dead, conquered powers and principalities, and seated Christ in the heavenlies. Often believers live below the power that is available to us. Therefore, we need to have eyes that are awakened to it as well.

God has given us his power—power to serve, encourage others, conquer sin, and persevere through difficulties. However, we must recognize it, seek it, and walk in it by faith.

Are you walking in God’s power? Are you encouraging and praying for others to walk in it?

2. Believers have love through the Spirit.

In Romans 5:5, it says that the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The same love that enabled God to send his Son to die on the cross, the love that cared for us while we were enemies of God abides in us, and the love lavished on believers and unbelievers alike through common grace (cf. Matt 5:44-45). Therefore, when God calls us to love our neighbor and bless our enemies, we can. We can because God’s love is inside us.

No doubt, there were people in Timothy’s congregation who were unlovable and difficult; however, Paul encouraged him to love through God’s Spirit.

Are you loving God and others?

3. Believers have self-discipline through the Spirit.

This is sometimes translated a “sound mind.” It means self-mastery, self-discipline—the ability to control one’s mind, emotions, and body. In order to complete whatever God has called us to, we must have discipline, which God has graciously provided through his Spirit. One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control (Gal 5:23).

Maybe Timothy, like many Christians before and after him said, “But God, I’m not a morning person! But God, I am afraid! But God, that person and I just don’t get along!” Yes, and those reasons might be valid, but God has given us discipline to be faithful despite those realities.

We need to hear this encouragement often, and we need to share it with others. Second Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. His children lack nothing. Are you walking in it? Are you encouraging others to? Encouragement must be one of our priorities, since his children are so prone to discouragement.

Application Question: Why is it important to make encouragement a priority as we serve the Lord and others? How can we better encourage others?

Conclusion

Do we have apostolic priorities? Our priorities help us make decisions about career, family, and ministry. If we have wrong priorities, we’ll make wrong decisions and ultimately missed God’s best for our lives and eternity.

What were Paul’s apostolic priorities and are we imitating them? He had:

  1. The Priority of the Gospel

  2. The Priority of Discipleship

  3. The Priority of Thankfulness

  4. The Priority of Prayer

  5. The Priority of a Clear Conscience

  6. The Priority of Serving

  7. The Priority of Encouragement

[1] Guzik, D. (2013). 2 Timothy (2 Ti 1:1). Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik.

[2] Guzik, D. (2013). 2 Timothy (2 Ti 1:1). Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik.

[3] Guzik, D. (2013). 2 Timothy (2 Ti 1:2–5). Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik.

[4] Guzik, D. (2013). 2 Timothy (2 Ti 1:2–5). Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2109). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2109). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[7] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 2 Timothy (p. 13). Chicago: Moody Press.

[8] Guzik, D. (2013). 2 Timothy (2 Ti 1:6). Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik.

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