3.3 Keeping a Firm Grip on Our Faith and Ourselves.

Our Lectio Divina for today:

I’m passing this work on to you, my son Timothy. The prophetic word that was directed to you prepared us for this. All those prayers are coming together now so you will do this well, fearless in your struggle, keeping a firm grip on your faith and on yourself. After all, this is a fight we’re in. There are some, you know, who by relaxing their grip and thinking anything goes have made a thorough mess of their faith.  1st Timothy 1: 18-19 (MsgB)

A wise pastor once told me that God doesn’t have any grandchildren…only first generation kids. In other words, there is no such thing as having a true relationship with Jesus Christ by simply hanging around other people who do.

So, when Paul writes to his spiritual son, Timothy, “I’m passing this kalós work on to you,” he is not referring to his personal relationship with the Master. You see, on that Last Day, when God, our Creator and King, sums up the whole enchilada, no one, including both Paul and Timothy, is going to gain access into God’s glory via the ticket of mentioning someone else’s name. If you recall Jesus’ conversation with His disciples on this very subject, the Master spells it out very clearly. I shudder at the precise way Eugene Peterson, in his Message Bible, translates it:

Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with Me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what My Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to Me and saying, “Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.” And do you know what I am going to say? “You missed the boat. All you did was use Me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress Me one bit. You’re out of here.” Matthew 7: 21-23 MsgB

Ouch.

I’m not sure how these harsh words from the Master strike you today, but quite honestly, I’m kinda freakin’ out here at the idea that you or I could actually spend our whole lives using the right language, attempting to glorify Christ through our illustrious deeds, only to find out on that final day, that all of what we did in His Name was nothing but a sham. A religious mask that covered over our foolish selfishness and self-centered sinfulness!

Hmm. Maybe that’s why Paul seems so adamant in reminding Timothy to keep a firm grip on both his faith and on himself, holding on for dear life to the words and works of Christ that have served to transform him from the inside out? Paul goes on here to remind his son that “this is a fight we’re in,” and to look out for those who relax their grip, thinking that anything goes. Could it be that it’s this sloppy hold on our Christian faith that produces the kind of religious nonsense Jesus refers to? Looking like the real deal to others, but only an ugly pride on the inside, a false self, constructed out of our own fleshly wants and desires?

I guess before we continue on with this blog journey through Paul’s writings to Timothy, it’s important to stop right here and be gut honest with ourselves, our faith, and our hope.

Can you and I stop for a moment and take a long hard look at the faith we are holding onto today? Is it a faith that is built on the works of men, a religious monument to others who have gone on before us? Are we worshipping at the altar of God, or are we making sacrificial offerings to our denominations, our traditions, and our religious preferences?

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus goes on to ask His disciples what they are building in their lives. Do you recall His words?

These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. But if you just use My words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards. Matthew 7: 24-27 MsgB

So, dear friend, what are our hands building today, and where are we constructing our homes? Are we keeping a firm grip on our faith and on ourselves, or are we letting up a bit in order to maintain our position or place in today’s society? Has our God-given gift of peacemaking become a sloppy bucket of politically-correct rhetoric? Has our faith in Christ become compromised with worldly add-ons, offered to us by an audience that likes to have its ears tickled but bristles when the true kingship of Jesus of Nazareth is openly preached?

Well, enough questions for today. I’m sure the Master will continue meddling in our lives as we continue our read through Paul’s words to Timothy. Suffice for today to know that Jesus is still looking for first-generation followers. And I, for one, want to be in that number. How about you?

My prayer: Jesus, I’ll be honest. Your words of warning are strong, so strong, Master, that it’s making me aware that Paul was spot on correct when he warned Timothy to keep a firm grip on his faith and on himself. Holy Spirit, come and indwell me and empower me this day to stay strong in my relationship with God, with His Son, and with You. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: So, let’s be honest today. Where have I been loosening my grip on my faith, and with myself? How have I allowed my faith in Christ to erode, using other words than the words of Jesus to build my house? Am I sure of the foundation I’m building on today? Is it truly a solid foundation built only on the words and works of Christ, or have I allowed a bit of sandy soil to slip in without my awareness of it happening?

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

Click here to go on to the next session in this series…

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