Some of you know I am reading the Bible chronologically with my D-group, and that this isn’t the first time I’ve read this way. You may also know that I’ve said several times, I learn more each time I re-read these passages.
It happened again when I was reading a favorite part of the New Testament, 2 Timothy in particular. I love how Paul never wavered in his passionate and obedient service to Christ after he met the Lord on that dusty Damascus road (Acts 9). Why did he do that despite the difficulties he faced? And how did he do it?
I think the key to this mystery is found in 2 Timothy 1:1. We see very simply the why of his life, the purpose for ALL he did after meeting Christ, as he opens his second letter to his mentee Timothy: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, for the sake of the promise of life in Christ Jesus…”
His “why” was because it was God’s will for the purpose of the Gospel. This seems to enable Paul to face one challenge after another, one abandonment after another, one life-threatening experience after another.
So, the next question is “how?” I think we see the key to that question in 2 Timothy 1:8-9…”So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me his prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God.” Not only does Paul credit the power of God for his ability to suffer for Christ, he also encourages us to follow suit!
I faced the question I am asking you as I read this passage: is this the why and how of my life in Christ? Of my daily walk with Him? Of my influence in our desperate culture?
For so many of us, life changed with the pandemic. Many lost jobs and income, some lost health and others lost their lives. I don’t know how this has affected you, but if you are a follower of Christ, your “how” is obedience to “God’s will for the sake of the gospel”, just as it was Paul’s. And your “how” is the power of God in you through the Holy Spirit.
My desire is to live like this until I finish my race well.
Paul certainly did. We read his beautiful testimony of finishing his race in 2 Timothy 4:7-8…”I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved his appearing.“
Paul knew his life would soon end as he sat in prison awaiting his eternal reward. And he knew his obedience and endurance had been used by God to lead many to the truth of the Gospel.
What about my life? What about yours? The “why” and the “how” of faithfully serving Christ is the same as Paul taught in 2 Timothy. The “why” and “how” enable us to end well as we run across the finish lines into the arms of Christ. There’s no better “why” on earth!