You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:1).
With these words, the Apostle Paul challenges his young protégé, Timothy, not to grow weary or weak as he endures for the sake of the gospel and the church in Ephesus. The church at this time was experiencing heavy persecution from the Ephesian culture around it, which had little interest in the gospel. But the church was also facing pressure from inside in the form of false teachers. The church, and Timothy, was pressed on all sides.
Put yourself in Timothy’s shoes. Your mentor, who happens to be the Apostle Paul, is in prison and about to be executed for the sake of the gospel. You’re about thirty years old, which was when you would begin ministry in those days. You’re being asked to guard the true gospel, to reason against false teachers, and to teach the people of the church in patience and wisdom, even when they don’t want to hear from you.
A couple of weeks of that and most of us would want to quit; just walk away and let someone else deal with it.
Paul knew Timothy would face this temptation, so he told him to draw strength from the only lasting source—the grace of Jesus.
This was Paul’s way of challenging Timothy to live in light of the gospel—to swim in it, bathe in it, revel in it. To remind himself of the good news that even though Timothy was dead in his sin, God loved him enough to send his Son to die for Timothy’s sake, then to chase Timothy down through the Paul and save him from eternal death.
When’s the last time you fought back thoughts of despair or grief or sadness with the truth that Jesus has paid the price to set you free?
It’s as if Paul’s words grabbed Timothy by the shoulders and shook him, saying, “Timothy, remember! God snatched you out of the clutches of darkness and rescued you into his marvelous light. You were once a slave to darkness, but now you’re a free man in Christ!”
When’s the last time you reminded yourself of the gospel like that? When’s the last time you fought back thoughts of despair or grief or sadness with the truth that Jesus has paid the price to set you free, and now nothing can ever separate you from his love? When’s the last time you found yourself so thankful that God saved you through Christ that you couldn’t help but tell someone about it, or encourage someone with that same truth?
This is living in light of the gospel.
Christian, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Draw from the living water, the well that never runs dry.
When you see the wonders and beauty of the cross of Christ, when you let it wash over your heart and overwhelm your mind, then you’ll find your actions and thoughts conforming to the character of Christ. Then you’ll have enough energy to get through the day; to serve that person one more time; to give a little bit more; to strengthen yourself for what’s ahead.
Christian, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Draw from the living water, the well that never runs dry. Remind yourself that you were dangling over the eternal fire like a spider from its silky thread before God snatched you out of the flames at just the right time and set your feet upon a rock.
Live in light of the gospel that called you out of darkness. And may the light of Christ strengthen you for the days ahead.
(Guest writer Grayson Pope (M.A., Christian Studies) is a husband and father of three, and the Managing Web Editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship. He serves as a writer and editor with Prison Fellowship. For more of Grayson’s writing check out his website, or follow him on Twitter.)