Not to be too existential, but I can imagine Paul grabbing Timothy by the shoulder in order to speak directly to his face, “You then.” It is a moment of focus. He calls him to undivided attention. “Timothy, now listen to me.” What followed from Paul’s lips—or, in this case, his pen—were words of truth meant to infuse strength into an otherwise timid heart.
“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:1–2).
This reminds me of a movie we enjoyed as a family, The Help. The main character, Aibileen, an African-American maid and nanny, would utter the same three phrases to the young child under her care. “You is kind, You is smart, You is important.” She was able to strengthen the young girl who suffered neglect from her biological mother. Paul had a similar thing to say to believers who were enduring hardship. He gives us seven realities to consider.
You are Saved
It might be overly obvious to say but it is worth hearing, “my child” (2 Tim. 2:1). This is a term of endearment. Timothy was discipled by Paul since his teenage years. In a way, Paul was the father he never had. But, before he was a “spiritual child” of Paul, he was a child of God—born again by the Spirit of God (cf: Jn. 3:1-8; 1 Pet. 1:23). This reality is critical. Only those who are born of God can endure.
You are Empowered
Second, Paul says to “be strengthened” (2 Tim. 2:1). The Greek reads more like “be continually empowered.” The source of power is not deep inside Timothy. It is a foreign energy source. It empowers him as he plugs into it. Paul said to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Eph. 6:10). Spiritual endurance requires spiritual strength which only comes from the Spirit of God. The second reality depends on the first. If you are saved, then you have access to unlimited power “for all endurance” (Col. 1:11).
You are Favored
Third, the power comes to us “by the grace” of God (2 Tim. 2:1). There is a generous love that God has for all mankind (Matt. 5:44-45; Acts 14:16-17; 1 Tim. 2:3-4). There is also a specific love that God has for those He favors (Rom. 1:7; Jude 1:1; Eph. 1:3-6). When Jesus was praying in the garden, He was praying for His followers and expressly “not praying for the world” (Jn. 17:9). Moreover, He died for His sheep, not the world (Jn. 10:14-15). The third reality gives us comfort knowing that God has a special grace for those who belong to Him.
You are Secure
The special grace involves an eternal security. He continues by qualifying the grace that it is “in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1). Paul loved this phrase. He used it often. In this book alone he says that life is in Christ (2 Tim. 1:1), eternity is in Christ (2 Tim. 1:9), faith is in Christ (2 Tim. 1:13), salvation is in Christ (2 Tim. 2:10), godliness is in Christ (2 Tim. 3:12), and wisdom is in Christ (2 Tim. 3:15). This is good news because we are in Christ as well (Gal. 3:26). So, whoever is in Christ receives whatever is in Christ. And, there is nothing that separate us from Christ (Rom. 8:38-39). In Christ, we are safe and secure—a powerful reality to consider when enduring hardship.
You are Entrusted
Fifth, Paul says that “what you have heard from me” is entrusted into you (2 Tim. 2:2). Although he was not our mentor, we receive the teachings of God through his writings (2 Pet. 1:3). He is referring to the “testimony of God” (2 Tim. 1:8) and the keeping of God’s truth (2 Tim. 1:14). Or simply put, “follow the pattern [living] of sound words [doctrine]” (2 Tim. 1:12). God entrusts His teachings to all His followers. We are to guard it and keep it pure like a bank would with its customers’ deposits. This reality ought to give us a sense of importance during hardship. This is serious stuff.
You are Accountable
Sixth, no one receives the good deposit of truth in bubble. We all accept God’s truth “in the presence of many witnesses” (2 Tim. 2:2). By this, Paul might have meant one of two things—or both. Maybe he meant that there are others who can attest to the validity of the truth. Or maybe he meant that there are others who can attest to the reception of the truth. In either case, we are held accountable for receiving God trustworthy Word. This reality ought to embolden us to endure. People are watching.
You are Called
Finally, the call to endure serves as a final reality. “Entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). This is how we share in suffering. This is the activity that we are to engage in that attracts hardship. It is the passing on the good deposit of truth (2 Tim. 1:14). For continued work against the darkness of this world, we have to have continued strength. This is what endurance is—continued strength to stand under hardship.
To whom are you entrusting God’s Word? Who looks to you for the “pattern of sound words” (2 Tim. 1:12)? How are you standing up under hardship? Do you lack strength? Maybe it is because you have lost touch with these realities. Maybe you need to be reminded that all these truths tell us that it is by God’s power. He saves. He empowers. He favors and secures. He entrusts and holds accountable. He calls you to endure for His Kingdom. This is who you are in Christ.