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Devotional: January 20, 2022

This is a sure thing:

If we die with him, we’ll live with him;

If we stick it out with him, we’ll rule with him;

If we turn our backs on him, he’ll turn his back on us;

If we give up on him, he does not give up—

for there’s no way he can be false to himself.

Repeat these basic essentials over and over to God’s people. Warn them before God against pious nitpicking, which chips away at the faith. It just wears everyone out. Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won’t be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple.

Second Timothy 2: 11-16 The Message

In both of Paul's letters to his young protégé Timothy, he offers his advice on how to lead people in following the Lord. In other words, Paul is acting as a mentor to Timothy. He would love to be with Timothy in person, to show him and teach him personally. However, Paul is in prison as he writes these letters. Fortunately, his words minister to not only Timothy, but also to us today.

Paul is reminding Timothy to keep to the essentials of the faith: putting our faith in Jesus Christ, and persevering in spite of difficulties. The apostle also reminds Timothy of both the justice of Christ (if we turn our backs on Him, he will turn His back on us), but also Jesus’ mercy: (if we give up on Him, He does not give up on us). There is both justice and mercy to be found in the Lord…

Yet more than anything else, Timothy is encouraged to be a help to the people he leads. He is exhorted to “keep the main thing… the main thing.” So often in the history of the church, there have been disagreements, arguments, and even wars fought over the smallest and silliest of theological fine points. Many times, such kerfuffles are started by one person, (perhaps a person in power), or one side or both sides in a disagreement have become very judgmental of the other. This leads to unhealthy pride, a sense of superiority, and an unfortunate de-valuing of the other person.

As Paul rightly observes, such nit-picking doesn’t lift people up. Instead, it wears on people’s nerves. People want to quit or flee from you, if all they sense is criticism. Not only that, what message of ministry does that send to those who are watching “Christinity in action?” Instead, Paul is encouraging Timothy to become an encouragement to, not a critic of, the people he leads.

What about you:

Are you more of a critic, or an encourager?

Do you draw people towards a relationship with the Lord by your daily words and actions?

Do you “major in the minors”, and get caught up in comcparatively insignificant details?

Do you manage to keep to your main mission in life?

Do you draw people in who want to know more about the Lord, or less?

When you are trusting in God, and doing your very best for Him, you are rejoicing in his unconditional, and amazing love for us! We need to always remember that our actions are just as important as our words.

These are good questions for us to consider, as we live out our faith, just like young Timothy…

Prayer

Holy and Loving God,

Help me to be grounded in my faith, clinging to it as a solid rock. Don’t let me become wishy-washy. Help me to never judge others, for judging them is Your business, and not my own. Instead, help me to do my very best for You. May I lift up others with my prayers. Guide me to be humble, so that I always show the love for others that You have for me. I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.


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