2 Timothy 4v6-22
A summary of a life!
If you knew you had one week to live —
– What would you change in your life?
Paul life is at an end and he knows it. And he can confidently and without boastful pride say – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Paul is in prison – death row really – He has had a preliminary hearing and is awaiting the final trial where he expects to be sentenced to death. He recognises that his time has come to die.
We tend to think of Paul as a great spiritual giant – the indomitable apostle and of course he was that but he is also a man of flesh and blood. One who felt loneliness, fear, disappointment etc. He is still a frail human being like all of us.
What has added to his difficult circumstances is that he feels very much alone.
He describes his sense of isolation in vv.9-18
He is deserted by friends, opposed by enemies and unsupported practically.
In this verses Paul mentions many people – we can’t look at all in detail.
In verse 16 he says At my first defence, no-one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. (NIV)
Paul felt abandoned and alone. He is cut off from the churches he established and from the people he knows and loves. For a variety of reasons – some legitimate – his friends are not supporting him in this time of greatest need.
Some of his friends have gone to different places for good reason – probably in ministry of the gospel. And Paul does not criticise them for that but does miss their support.
There are those who have deserted him for illegitimate reasons.
2 Timothy 4:10 ….. Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. …
This is clearly extremely painful to Paul as Demas had in previous times been a fellow-worker for the cause of Christ BUT because he love the pleasures of this life had deserted his fellow Christian, Paul. Was it because of the stressful circumstances of the increasing persecution and he had chosen the cowardly approach? We are not told but what we do know is that instead of “Loving Christ’s appearing” [v8] he had fallen in “love with this present world”
All through history and even in the church today there are ‘Demas’es. Those who in order to save their own skins / to satisfy their own desires will abandoned their fellow-believers in time of their greatest need. When the going gets tough they don’t keep going but rather simply go away! Fair-weather friends!
Then there are those like Alexander the metal worker [coppersmith] who go out of their way to oppose the gospel and all Christian worker – they make life difficult. No one ever said being a Christian was easy. Any one can ‘go with the flow’ even a dead fish can go with the flow – it takes someone with strength, spiritual stamina like Paul to go against popular opinion – to stand alone.
Yet as we read on we realise that Luke is there in Rome and has done what he can to support Paul during this time.
I believe that this passage gives great insight into our feelings –as we read this passage we realise that Paul has a number of good friends, many in distance places– but his circumstances are so stressful and emotionally draining that he laments that he is alone with no one to help.
Paul needs human friendship.
Paul’s deep affection for Timothy.
2 Timothy 1:4 4 …, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.
2 Timothy 4:9 Do your best to come to me quickly,
If Paul is ever to see Timothy again then he must come quickly while he is still alive. Again at the end of the letter…2 Timothy 4:21 21 Do your best to get here before winter. .
Paul indicates in v.8 that he longs to be with Christ.”…longs for his appearing”.
The longing for human companionship and the longing for Christ’s presence are not incompatible. Sometimes some super-spiritual Christians claim that they never feel lonely because Jesus satisfies all their needs. That is nonsense!! Human companionship is God’s provision for humanity. He is the God who said of Adam in the Garden of Eden that it is not good for a man to be alone!
As wonderful as it is to know Christ’s presence in our daily lives and to look forward to his return — these are not intended to be substitutes for human friendship and companionship.
Paul needs physical care.
2 Timothy 4:13 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, …. (NIV)
The winter is coming and if his execution is delayed he will need his warm cloak.
Paul needs mental stimulation.
2 Timothy 4:13 When you come, bring … my scrolls, especially the parchments.
We do not know what was written on these scrolls and parchments but we know they were precious to Paul.
What do we learn from these request of Paul’s?
In 2 Timothy 4:16-17 16 At my first defence, … the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, …….
We know the Lord strengthen Paul and that in the solitude of his dungeon God was with him. Yet the help that we get from God is both direct and indirect.
He does give inner peace and joy – YET he also uses human means to supply our needs.
ILLUS. Man in flood – God will rescue – canoe/ motor boat / helicopter. Man refused all because God was going to rescue!! He drowns and complained to St. Peter that God never rescued him. “We send a canoe / motor boat / helicopter” said Peter “What more do you want!”
We must not despise God’s human means of meeting our needs.
STOTT “When our spirit is lonely, we needs friends. When our body is cold, we need clothing. When our mind is bored we need books. To admit this is not unspiritual, it is human.”
What is Paul’s assessment of his life as he faces his death?
2 Timothy 4:6-8 6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 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. (NIV)
Most of us live very busy lives – they are filled with work, family, church life, recreation – we busy ourselves with looking after our homes and cars, acquiring possessions etc…. … How do we appraise all this? But what criteria do we judged our lives?
Paul gives two vivid pictures to portray his imminent death – being poured out like a drink offering, …….and the time has come for my departure –
The first speaks of a life given in serve to God which is about to give the final offering of life itself.
ILLUS.: It was C T Studd one of the most gifted cricketers England ever knew who came from a very wealthy family – he left all this and went first to China and later to Africa as a missionary. His reason “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me then no sacrifice is too great for me to make for him!”
Like Paul he was willing to pour out his life in sacrifice for the sake of the gospel. We don’t have to go to China or Africa to show our devotion to Jesus – it is not a matter of geography it is a matter of the heart.
the time has come for my departure – a picture of a ship preparing to leave harbour – the moorings ropes are already being untied and the vessel is about to sail.
How does Paul describe his life and particularly his approx. 30 years of ministry?
He uses three phrases:-
Paul has exerted himself and expended his energy in the cause of Christ – he has given his all
Earlier in his ministry Paul in speaking to the Elder of the Church in Ephesus were Timothy now was said this.. Acts 20:24 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. (NIV)
Now many years later he can say “I have finished the race!”
Does it simply mean that he has kept faith with his master, Jesus? I think it means more than that. In the context of the letter of urging Timothy to guard the gospel that has been entrusted to him, Paul means that having being entrusted by God with this precious commodity, the good news about salvation through Jesus Christ, he has faithful proclaimed that message without addition or compromise!
By what criteria do you and I judge our lives?
ILLUS.: Jim Elliott – young missionary with 4 companions killed by tribal Indians in an Ecuador jungle in the 1950’s. As a young man in college with his heart set on serving God completely he wrote these words in his journal.
“Life is short it will soon be past, only what is done for Christ will last”
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot loose.”
The apostle Paul wrote about how we are to assess what we do on earth – how our lives will stand up on the day of judgement – 1 Corinthians 3:11-13 11 For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day [of Judgement] will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. (NIV)
Don’t judge your life by earthly criteria.
It is not usually those who have their name in lights who are significant in God’s kingdom.
Godly mothers raising their children don’t usually appear on the cover of Hello magazine. Those caring for the poor and needy are not pay vast sums of money. Those faithfully serving in their local church and reaching out in love to friends and neighbours won’t even make it in to the local press ……
BUT God sees and judges by a different set of standards to the world.
When the rewards are dished out in heaven there are going to be lots of surprises – it will not be those who have been in the limelight on earth who will be at the front of the queue. There will be godly women who have wrestled in prayer who will be way ahead of preachers with their names in lights.
Paul wasn’t looking for earthly acclaim but for heaven’s approval.
2 Timothy 4:8 8 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. (NIV)
Paul was about to stand before a Roman court – possibly before the Emperor, Nero, himself and he would be found guilty and condemned to die. However, he looks beyond the unjust earthly proceedings to the heavenly Judge who is righteous and true and who will reverse the verdict of Nero and declare him righteous – the crown of righteousness.
This is not only Paul’s prospect but everyone who loves Christ and longs for his return! Do you?
What preparation have you made / are you making for your eternal future. Jesus talked about laying up treasure in heaven.
Illus.: Jester given a beautiful wand by the King saying “Don’t part with this unless you find a greater fool than yourself!” Years later the king was dying and call this jester of whom he had grown fond to his bedside.
King: “I wanted to say good bye as I am going on a long journey!”
Jester: “Where are you going?”
King : “ I have no idea!”
Jester: “How long will you be gone?”
King: “That I can tell you – it is forever.”
Jester: “What have you done to provide for your well-bing on the great trip?”
Jester: “Since that is the way you feel – take this wand. You are the fool to whom I should give it!”
God has provided for us in Jesus all we need to prepare for death and eternity – only a fool will refuse that provision!
The ageing apostle who has been faithful to God and his gospel wrote this letter to the young Timothy to urge him to do the same – and also us.
At the end of this letter Paul uses two words that sum up his life and beliefs – grace [v.22] and glory [v18].
It is only by grace that we come to God / only by grace we can continue to worship and serve him / it is only grace that will keep us for the future. Thus having received the grace of God it should be our ambition to return glory to Christ.
I guess Paul would sum up his life thus: “From God grace; to God glory!”
If you and I claim to be Christians is this what characterises our lives?
A summary of a life!
Paul’s life sum up:-
“from God, grace; to God, glory!”