Rejoice! No Room for Self-Pity
2 Timothy 1:13-18, “Hold fast the pattern of sound words, which you have heard from…..”
Timothy was a young man that had just gone into ministry, a protégée of Paul. From all indication, he gave his life under Paul’s ministry, and then got into ministry under Paul’s mentorship. Paul sent him out to be Pastor to certain Churches, just like he did with Titus and so many others.
During this period Paul was in prison and was writing to Timothy and the churches he pastured. Paul was a prisoner; that was his status, he was not a free man, but someone whose freedom to move about had been taken away; he was in chains tied down like an animal yet even in that state he was thinking about the brethren.
But from what we read, you will understand that Paul, when he was writing was in prison. So if we’re going to define his status at the time, he was a prisoner. Like some of us are single parents,some of us are divorced and some of us are widowed. In the same way, Paul had a status. His status then was, he was in chains and was prison.
Before I continue, you must understand that your status today cannot and should not stop your destiny. If you allow your status to affect your destiny, you have made a mistake. When you have to fill your status on any form whether, single, married or divorced? Some of us immediately believe what we have written is who we are, we forget sometimes that who we are is not defined by this temporary status, that our life is evolving to become who God has created us to be.
Timothy was free but a young man in ministry and we find that between Paul’s first letter and second letter (a period of 4 years according to Bible history), this young man who was very zealous, very hard working, very God fearing, had gone through a lot of struggles. The people he was sent to had tried to make him understand that he was too young and they had despised him. He faced incredible challenges because he was dealing with people at different levels of spiritual growth and from different backgrounds. It was so bad that Timothy at this time was thinking of quitting, he felt so alone because his mentor was still in prison, and this prompted Paul to write the second letter, which we read.
Like Timothy things may have gotten so bad that you are in the verge of quitting. It seems everyone has abandoned you and your prayers seem unanswered, this message is for you in particular. I want you to know, quitting is not an option, God has not and will never abandon you, a very high price was paid for you, so cheer up, and rejoice, and the said time is here in the mighty name of Jesus. I looked through the whole of 2 Timothy and I found some interesting phrases. I found phrases like “stir-up”, phrases like “do not be ashamed”, phrases like “hold fast” and all of these phrases we find in chapter 1. In chapter 2, we find, “Be strong!,” “Endure hardship,” “Be diligent,” “Flee youthful lust” and you find that the whole of 2 Timothy is filled with phrases of encouragement.
Here was Paul, his hands and feet were in chains like an animal, locked up in prison, and yet he could feel that his protégée was so discouraged that he was about to give up on ministry. Paul did not think of his situation, he needed a lot of encouragement as well, but he forgot about himself and started to write to Timothy. He started by letting Timothy know that he wished he could be with Timothy and encourage him but because of his present status that was impossible but he made him realize that he was thinking about him and praying for him. Let us now consider the letter to Timothy in greater detail: 2 Timothy 1:3-4, says, “I thank God whom I serve with pure conscience as my fore-fathers did, as without ceasing, I remember you in my ….greatly desiring to see you” Can you see the way he was feeling and how he expressed it to Timothy? Without ceasing (never a moment passes without me thinking about you), I remember you Timothy, I know what you’re going through, I sense the affliction you are going through, I can imagine the challenges you are going through, so without ceasing, I remember you in my prayers night and day. Paul was constantly praying for Timothy, he forgot all about his own suffering and pain and concentrated on Timothy. Look at the next thing he says to him “Greatly desiring to see you” (He wished he could see him) “being mindful of your tears.” (He wanted Timothy to know he knew he was in great distress). Then Paul goes on to say in II Timothy 1:5-7, “When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you…… but of power, and of love, and a sound mind.”
Here Paul says, look, I want you to understand Timothy, there is something about you. What you are going through should not let you lose focus. You come from a good stock, grounded in faith in God, your grandmother and mother exhibited the same kind of faith. All the struggles you are facing is because of who you are. You have a power in you that can conquer the world. Do not buckle under the pressure. That is why I would like to remind you to stir up the gift of faith in you. Do not give up. Do not allow your circumstances or the challenges you are facing cause the flame of faith burning in you to dwindle, fan the flame with the gift of faith in you. Then Paul goes on to say, “..because God has not given you the spirit of fear”. Many of us are afraid of the future. We say things like “What if I never get married? Who will take care of me in my old age? With the increasing cost of things, how will I be able to pay my rent?
How will I take care of this child? Pastor, I am afraid!” But do you know what the Spirit of God is saying? You stir up the gift of God in you. God has not given you the spirit of fear; rather He has given you the spirit of power, love and a sound mind. Paul knew that in telling Timothy this truth, Timothy will be encouraged. I tried to look at that word “Sound mind”, one version of the word says self control, self discipline. Yes. It’s a combination of two words in Greek which means “save thinking”. So in other words if you don’t lose the battle in your thought life, you cannot lose it in your physical life. Paul was saying God had not given Timothy the spirit of fear but He has given him the spirit of save thinking. That is why the Bible says “Keep your heart with all diligence because out of it comes the issues of your life.”
Your future will be defined by the way you are thinking today. If you think your status today defines your future then the devil has won, but if you think your status today is a stepping stone into the great future God has planned for you, then the devil has lost the battle. Quit the self pity, stop defining yourself by the challenges you face today, stir up the gift of God inside of you and walk tall, looking ahead to the great future that lies ahead of you.
-By Pastor Taiwo Odukoya