June 19: The Strength to Stand

Read 2 Timothy 2:1-13

He’d been abandoned by many, and in a dark hour. There was one, though, Onesiphorus, who brought the light of encouragement into Paul’s dark dungeon where he lay chained up, persecuted for the truth of Jesus Christ.

Yes, abandoned and chained and near death, the Apostle Paul had good reason to give up his good fight. Yet here in these verses, we read his own words of encouragement. He wrote to Timothy to encourage him, his mentee.

“Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (v1).

The only true strength, Paul knew, was the kind he himself had found in Christ Jesus. The only real power was the kind that had him sending letters of encouragement from the middle of a prison. The grace of Christ Jesus was Paul’s only way to remain faithful to his mission — spreading the news that God had come. The truth that trusting Jesus was the only way to really live, even inside a dark dungeon prison.

Paul knew that this grace of Christ Jesus was also the power of God at work in His Church. The spreading of His gospel through faithful and reliable men, like Timothy and Onesiphorus, to other faithfuls and reliables. He knew they must stand strong in that grace or they would not stand at all. They, too, would be counted among the ranks of those who had abandoned him if they did not choose to stand strong in God’s grace.

It was no easy calling for Timothy, especially when his spiritual father lay chained and imprisoned in a dungeon, ready to die.

So when Timothy read Paul’s encouragement to “endure hardship,” he probably needed reminding of who Christ had made him. “A good soldier . . . who wants to please his commanding officer” (vv 3-4). The strength to stand came from the grace of Christ Jesus Himself.

The focus was difficult for Timothy, no doubt. It’s difficult for us sometimes, too. Although we don’t face an emperor’s crazy tyranny, we face opposition regularly if we are fighting for the truth of Jesus Christ.

A friend slanders the way we choose to live above reproach. A co-worker bitterly taunts a lunchtime Bible study we’ve started. But if we stand strong in the grace of Jesus Christ, if we aim to please only Him, we will accomplish God’s purpose. And we too will fill well the boots of a soldier in the army of God.


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