It is difficult to see your children struggle. Paul looked upon Timothy as his spiritual son. He knew Timothy faced opposition and discouragement. As one of his last acts, he sent the younger leader these letters to encourage and equip him to face the task. Paul understood that the future of the church depended upon the next generation. He desired to pass on his wisdom and experience.
As we reflect on these two letters, three major themes stand out. The first is that salvation is both our present reality and our future hope. Jesus has already achieved everything we need for the forgiveness of sins (1 Tim. 1:15–16; 2 Tim. 1:9–10). There is nothing we can add to what Christ has done (1 Tim. 2:5–6). However, the full implementation of Jesus’ victory over sin and Satan remains a future hope. The present is described as “the last days,” which are times of difficulty and strife (2 Tim. 3:1). Thus, Timothy (and we) should not be surprised if ministry involves suffering (2 Tim. 3:12). Even so, we have a glorious, future hope to anticipate. One day, Jesus will return and that hope should inspire and encourage us to persevere (1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:1).
Until Christ returns, the church has an important mission to accomplish. Most of the teaching about qualifications for church leaders, the role of men and women in church, and how to organize worship is designed to help the church be more effective in fulfilling its mission of proclaiming the gospel.
Finally, the gospel should transform our lives, so that we live as a new creation! The key word for this change is “godliness” (1 Tim. 4:8). It is this transformed life that authenticates the gospel message.
>> When we get discouraged, we should look back at what Christ has done, look forward to His return, and look around us to see changed lives. Praise God for who He is, for what He is doing, and for His imminent return.