2 Timothy

2 Timothy 1v:3-7 The matter of Christian character development

2 Timothy 1v3-7

 

The Matter of Christian Character Development

 

What are the ingredients that go to make us what we are?

There is much debate today around the subject of what influences who we are? Is it our genetic makeup? Is it our family / cultural upbringing? Is it a combination of these and other factors.

Certainly we inherit certain characteristics from our parents. I sometimes catch myself saying / doing things these days and I think, “I sound just like my father!” It is a bit scary really!!

The culture in which we live also has an influence – many things we do or the way we think is influenced by the culture in which we grow up. We think our culture is normal!

 

ILLUS.: Just this week is was with a group of people and spoke to one man who I had never met before and after a few moment he said to me, “You have an accent!” And I thought to myself “And you don’t!”

I remember some years ago collecting three American ladies from the Airport and as we drove out the car park onto the roads one remarked “Oh! You are driving on the WRONG-side of the road!”

We judge things from our own cultural perspective because our culture shapes us to a degree – even if we are not aware of it!

 

As we look at this letter that Paul writes to Timothy we can see some of the ingredients that have help to shape Timothy’s life as a Christian. As Paul writes he is remembering certain things about Timothy – the things that have moulded his life:-

 

  • I constantly remember you in my prayers. [v3]
  • I remember your tears [v4]
  • I am reminded of your sincere faith [v5]

AND when I remember you Timothy, says Paul, “I thank God”

Those first three words of v.3 are key because it shows us that Paul is very aware that the godly characteristics Timothy exhibits are there by God’s grace and he deserves to be praised and thanked.

 

Paul now continues and mentions basically 4 things that God has used to shape Timothy’s life. Four things that matter.

 

 

 

  1. Family Matters

 

2 Timothy 1:3-5 3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, ….. 5 I have been 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.

 

Paul here mentions his forefathers {and indeed Timothy’s – half Jewish} and also Timothy’s Grandmother Lois and mother Eunice.

We are all to a greater of lesser degree products of our history – both national and family.

Paul often refers to his forefathers – who does he have in mind? Probably Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as well as other men and women of God from the OT. For Paul, a Jew as for a Jew today, to become a Christian is not to deny their Jewish heritage or be disloyal to their ancestors’ beliefs but to see it as a fulfilment of all their forebears’ faith and hope.

 

We know from Acts 16 the Timothy’s mother was a Jewess and his father a Greek who, it would appear was an unbeliever. Thus Timothy’s was born into a home of mixed marriage – both in terms of nationality and religious faith.

 

The sincere faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother had had a profound influence on Timothy’s young life. It also seems evident that his mother actively taught him – 2 Timothy 3:15 15 …. from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, …..

He was possibly sent to synagogue to learn but that was no doubt reinforced in the home by word and action. It is true that we cannot inherit our parents faith – each child must come to faith in Christ personally BUT God honours the influence of godly parents – that is not a guarantee that children will follow the faith of their parents BUT a child can be led to Christ by his/her parents’ teaching, example and prayers.

 

The influences on children these days are very great – TV, movies, magazines, peers, advertising, while the influence of parents, teachers and church has dwindled. YET this doesn’t diminish the responsibility of parents for their children.

 

What if my husband or wife is not a Christian? That doesn’t mean that he/she is a bad parent!! Good parenting is good parenting! And as in the case of Timothy his mother / grandmother influenced him spiritually.

What about single parents? Well of course it is tough – but possible as many prove and God is gracious in answering the prayers of single Christian parents.

What if I didn’t have a godly / good / stable family background? God can use all our experiences, even the bad ones, to mould us and make us into what He desires if we will respond to him and to his ways.

 

ILLUS.: I grew up with a father who was a very heavy drinker – I till some good things from him – I watched my mother cope with graciousness and endurance. And it has given me as an adult an understanding of the pressures that people living in those circumstances have to cope with. And the struggle of those with a drinking addiction.

 

Timothy was blessed in having a godly grandmother – grandparents have a key role to play:

ILLUS.: Response of 8 year old to the question “What is a Granny?”

  • A lady with no child of her own who like other people’s girls and boys.
  • She doesn’t have to be smart; just able to answer questions like, “Why do dogs hate cats?” and “Why isn’t God married?”
  • A grandfather is a man-grandmother.
  • He goes for walks with boys and they talk about fishing and tractors.
  • When they read to us they don’t skip bits. Everybody should have one, esp. if you don’t have TV, because they are the only grown-ups who have time

 

Timothy was blessed with a godly mother. It was John Wesley the great revival preacher and founder of Methodism who said “I learn more about God from my mother than from all the theologians of England.”

“Mums, you have a very unique and privileged responsibility!”

 

  1. Friends Matter

As we grow older and less dependent on our parents, our friends can have a great influence on our lives.

Paul had a very close relationship with Timothy.

2 Timothy 1:2 To Timothy, my dear son:

1 Corinthians 4:17 …I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. ….

Paul was Timothy’s ‘spiritual’ father and friend. He had taken him under his wing – took him along on his missionary journeys – trained him. When they had parted the last time it was with tears.

2 Timothy 1:4 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. (NIV)

…I long to see you…carries the sense of homesick-yearning – [Bishop Handley Moule]

In the meantime while they were apart he prayed for him constantly and wrote letters to him to encourage him. Such friends are of infinite value!!

 

LLUS.: Janet and I have a friend in SA – a retired pastor now – who many years ago said he would pray for us everyday and still does – and writes to us at least 2x a year.

 

The question to ask ourselves is “Am I being that kind of friend to someone else?”

It is called mentoring / discipling.

 

ILLUS.: Stories for the Heart – p.101 – “Mentoring”

 

  1. Ability Matters

[Gifts / Talents / Training / Experience]

Paul now moves from the indirect influences that shaped timothy’s life to the direct gifts and ability God gave him.

All the gifts we have whether natural talents of spiritual gifts are ultimately from God himself.

This was so in Timothy’s case. 2 Timothy 1:6 6 .. I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. (NIV)

 

We are not told what gift/s Timothy received but given his responsibilities we can assume in must have included teaching and pastoring gifts.

 

Everyone has talents and ability. Everyone can do something. On top of that if you are a Christian then you also have spiritual a gift/s. [charisma – grace gift – Rom.12 / 1Cor.12]

 

What becomes clear as we read Paul’s letters is that God gives gifts and abilities to enable us to do his will BUT it is not automatic – we must co-operate – they need to be sharpened.

 

4. Discipline Matters

In his 1st letter Paul wrote to Timothy – 1 Timothy 4:14 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. (NIV)

 

Now he says in his 2nd letter – 2 Timothy 1:6 6 .. I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. (NIV)

Paul likens the gift to a fire which need rekindling – for a fire to stay ablaze it needs feeding and fanning.

 

ILLUS.: This weekend marks the beginning of the Sydney Olympics. ALL the athletes taking part are very talented BUT there are millions of people sitting at home watching on TV who are just as talented but will never qualify for the Olympics. The difference is the Olympians have worked hard at developing their talents. Years and years of training and discipline.

 

Giftedness is insufficient – natural and spiritual – these need to be subjected to the will and purposes of God. Kept ablaze by faithfully using them AND waiting upon God in prayer for constant renewal.

 

Timothy, as we saw last week was young, suffered with ill health and was timid by nature. Timothy is shy and sensitive. Therefore Paul reminds him in 2 Timothy 1:7 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (NIV)

Paul urges him not to be diffident in using his God-given gift/s but to be courageous.

 

When talking about Timothy’s specific gift he says “you” [v6] BUT when speaking of the Spirit of God giving us a spirit of power / love / self-control he says “us” – because this is something that all Christians have.

 

The gifts we have received and the power we have been given to use them are NOT for self – John Stott puts it like this: “Since he is the Spirit of power we may be confident of his enabling as we exercise our ministry. Since he is the Spirit of love we must use God’s authority and power in serving others, not in self-assertion or vainglory. And since he is the spirit of self control we must use them with seemly reverence and restraint.”

 

These are the things that make Timothy what he is – and indeed makes all God’s people what they are.

There were many factors that made timothy what he was – godly up-bringing, Paul’s friendship and training, God’s gifts to him and his own self-discipline in using and developing those gifts and character.

 

As we look at both Paul and Timothy we see a combination of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Where does one end and the other begin? We can’t and should not try to draw too sharp a division, we can only conclude what with Paul what he says in 1 Corinthians 15:10 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them — yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

 

When all is said and done whatever we may achieve for the kingdom of God is by his enabling and he alone deserves the praise and glory.

BUT this leaves no room for complacency or passivity. It was the grace of God that inspired Paul to work hard – not necessarily busyness.

 

Timothy was the same. His mother and grandmother could teach him the scriptures; Paul could befriend him, train him and pray for him; God could give him special gifts; BUT still Timothy himself must stir up that God-given gift and add to that his own self-discipline.

 

And we are no different:

  • Whatever gifts / talents we have – whether natural or spiritual
  • Whatever influences family and friends have had on our lives

WE are still responsible to be self-disciplined as we co-operate with God — IF NOT we will never mature into the men and women that God desires us to be NOR will we fulfil the ministry he has given us to exercise!

 

What ingredients have gone and are going into the development of your character? Are you willing to receive from others or does pride get in the way?

 

What ingredients are you contributing to the building up of others – as Paul contributed to Timothy’s life? Who do you spend time with for the sake of God’s kingdom? Who do you sacrifice for? Who do you earnestly pray for?

Are you using all the God has made you and given you for his kingdom and glory?

 

 

The Matter of Christian Character Development

 

2 Timothy 1v3-7

 

1.   Family Matters

 

  1. Friends Matter

 

  1. Ability Matters

 

  1. Discipline Matters

 

Christian character develops by a combination of Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility …

 

…BUT in the final analysis … by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them — yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

The Apostle Paul -1 Corinthians 15:10
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