Our Lectio Divina for today:
Timothy, my son in the faith. I write this to you…the son I love so much. All the best from our God and Christ be yours! Every time I say your name in prayer—which is practically all the time—I thank God for you. You’ve been a good apprentice to me, a part of my teaching, my manner of life, direction, faith, steadiness, love, patience, troubles, sufferings—suffering along with me in all the grief I had to put up with in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. And you also well know that God rescued me! 1st Timothy 1: 2a; 2nd Timothy 1: 2-3; 2nd Timothy 3: 10-11 (MsgB)
It’s obvious from reading Paul’s letters to Timothy, that the relationship between these two followers of Christ was special indeed. As I see it, Paul and Timothy shared much more than a common faith in God. More than a shared belief that Jesus of Nazareth was and is God’s Messiah. No. These two men, one aged and worn; one young and afraid, are proud owners of one shared life. A shared common experience that included good, bad, and without a doubt, ugly. Paul gives us, in today’s reading, a brief liturgy of some of that shared experience.
The New Testament suggests that Paul, the Church’s first “official” sent-out one, encountered a young man, Timothy, upon his second visit to Lystra in Galatia (Acts 16: 1). Timothy’s earthly father, of whom we know very little, was a Greek man (a Gentile) living in Lystra, while both his mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, were faithful Jewish women who took it upon themselves to train up little Timmy in God’s Word from an early age. It’s very likely that Lois and Eunice were among those first disciples who gave their lives to Christ when Paul preached in their synagogue on his first missionary trip to Lystra (Acts 14: 6-7). Many believe that Timothy would have been in the crowd that infamous day (AD 47) when Paul and Barnabas miraculously heal a lame man, are celebrated by the locals as god-men, but ultimately rejected, with Paul being stoned and left for dead by an angry mob of dissenters who fail to see anything good in this missionary visit to their hometown (Acts 14: 8-20)!
Three years later (AD 50), upon Paul’s return to Lystra (Acts 16: 1-5), the apostle invites Timothy, now an established disciple in the church, to pack his duffle bag and join him and his traveling companion, Silas, on their missionary travels to Macedonia. Over the next several years, Timothy becomes one of Paul’s right-hand men, helping these world-travelers to establish new churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. When Paul is forced by persecution out of Berea, he commissions Timothy and Silas to stay there (Acts 17:10-14), only to send word for them to join him in Athens a few months later.
As a trusted companion, Timothy is eventually sent by Paul back to Thessalonica to strengthen the faith of the believers there (1 Thessalonians 3:1-2). He is also assigned to carry money collected by the Philippian church to care for Paul’s needs in Corinth (Philippians 2: 19-24), and during Paul’s three years in Ephesus, Timothy is there as well, learning from the master apostle how to care for souls and teach the Word of God (Acts 19:1-41).
It was several years later, as Paul is confined to prison in Rome, when Timothy, now about age 30, is asked to return to Ephesus to oversee the struggling church there. In turmoil, due to some poor teaching from leaders who can’t accept Christ as both fully human and fully divine, Timothy is assigned to restore right order to this once-strong Ephesian church. As Paul travels to greet old friends throughout Macedonia, it becomes apparent that Timothy is struggling in this new assignment in Ephesus. It is in response to this crisis, that Paul, the spiritual father, writes his first letter (1st Timothy) to his son in the faith (AD 65). Two years later (AD 67), Paul, once again imprisoned in Rome, pens his final impassioned letter (2nd Timothy), a spiritual last will and testament to encourage Timothy, his long-time ministry companion, asking his son if he might come to Rome to visit with him before his impending death.
How striking it is to see this one shared life of faith, this common bond of trust that holds these two men together, even as their work often fights against their ability to be there for one another in times of great need. Paul, the older pastor, walking right alongside Timothy, the younger. Brought together by the Providence of God, serving Christ in both good times and bad. And through it all, one amazing work of true love for one another, even when the two were very often physically distant from each other.
Makes me wonder if we pastors and church leaders in the twenty-first century fully grasp the deep importance of the one-on-one, compassionate and loving discipleship model we find in these two unique servants of God? As I look back on my 30+ years of “doing church,” I’m curious if my results in true disciple-making might have had a lot more long-term success if I’d focused more on truly loving a handful of faithful men and women like Timothy versus investing so much of my time, energy and efforts on recruiting large crowds to attend my church’s programming on Sunday mornings?
Maybe, it’s time we re-look at what we’re doing when it comes to true discipleship, re-thinking the way you and I are guarding the kalós, the precious treasure, that has been given to us to share? Could it be that the treasure of Christ-centered love for one another, the one shared life we find in the lives of Paul and Timothy, to be at the very core of all we do in and for the cause of Christ?
My prayer: Father God, I see in these two pastors, one old and one young, a common shared life of faith that stands the test of time and distance. In good times, bad times, and everything in between, it’s obvious that Paul and Timothy are there for one another, caring for each other as Jesus commands us to care. Holy Spirit, illuminate for me where I need to slow down my busy life and spend more quality time truly caring for those around me, like Paul cares for his spiritual son, Timothy. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So, who is it, today, that needs me to come alongside them, bringing both encouraging words of peace, and a commitment of Christ-empowered love? Who is my Timothy? Where is my Paul? And what practical steps of commitment can I take this day to stand long-term with another pastor or church leader who desperately needs that encouragement and love?
So, what is God speaking to you today as you guard the kalós, the precious treasure of pastoral ministry, in your life?
In this 26-session blog series, Kalós: Guarding the Precious Treasure, we explore the kalós*, this precious treasure of pastoral ministry that has been deposited into us by the work of the Holy Spirit. We invite you to come along with us, bookmarking this blog’s home page for easy, on-going referencing.
As you go through this blog series, we also suggest that you use the ancient tool of Lectio Divina as you approach each scriptural text we give you in this blog. Lectio Divina is a slow, intentional reading of the Holy Scriptures. Take your time as you ponder the text slowly, allowing the Holy Spirit to illuminate God’s Word for you as you read. Ask the Master as you read, “Jesus, what in this passage do I need to hear today?”
*So, what is kalós?
Kalós comes from a New Testament Greek word which simply means “good.” The apostle Paul, when writing to his young apprentice, Timothy, decided to combine this common adjective, kalós, with a second Greek word, parathéké, a noun which means a deposit or trust committed to one’s charge. As a result, the apostle ends up with one, very powerful phrase! A command that both Timothy, and you and I, truly need to take note of as we continue this ancient work of serving Christ and His Church! “Guard this kalós (this good work, this beautiful deposit, this precious treasure) placed in your custody by the Holy Spirit who works in us.” 2nd Timothy 1: 14