If you know me, this article is for you. If you’ve ever discovered my arrogant heart by teaching me or disagreeing with me, this is for you. In a more general sense, if you’ve ever tried to collaborate with or constructively critique another person, and they lacked the teachability or humility...
Timothy was a young man, probably in his thirties, and he had been given the task of leading the church in Ephesus. This is a massive responsibility.
And, we know that by temperament Timothy was timid and shy (2 Timothy 1:7). He was not a forceful person. He was not confident by nature.
I think Timothy must often have felt that he was in over his head, out of his depth, and sometimes at the end of his rope. Maybe you know what that feels like too.
When You’re in over Your Head
How do you sustain what God has called you to do year after year? Where do you find the energy to live a godly life when everything is pressing in on you?
Paul ends this letter with some much-needed encouragement for Timothy. And remember, Paul was writing under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. God knew what Timothy needed back then and he knows what you need right now.
So, I think Paul’s encouragement to Timothy is something all of us can use today. My prayer is that you will be refreshed and renewed in the hope of the Gospel today.
Man of God
“But you, man of God, flee from all this and pursue…” (v11)
Paul has been describing the way of false teachers and of people who set their hearts on money, and then he encourages Timothy to pursue a different path.
You would expect him to say “But you, Timothy, flee from all this and pursue…” He speaks to Timothy by name in verse 20, but he doesn’t do that here. Instead, he says “man of God.” That would have gotten Timothy’s attention.
The phrase “man of God” was used in the Old Testament to describe some of the great heroes of the faith:
- Moses (Deuteronomy 33:1)
- Samuel (1 Samuel 9:6)
- David (Nehemiah 12:24)
- Elijah (1 Kings 17:18)
- Elisha (2 Kings 4:7)
Do you think Timothy felt he belonged in that company? Paul says “Timothy, I want you to remember who you are. You are God’s man. I want you to think and speak and act and live as God’s man because that is who you are!”
Do you think you belong in this company?
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
The Scriptures are not only given to some Christians, but to all Christians. This is telling us something wonderful. In Old Testament times God called only a few to be his prophets, his priests and his kings.
But now every man who is in Christ is God’s man, and every woman who is in Christ is God’s woman.
If you are in Christ, you are God’s man as much as Moses, Samuel, David and Elijah. If you are in Christ you are God’s woman as much as Sarah, Deborah, Ruth or Esther.
Know who you are in Jesus Christ. You are God’s man, God’s woman. You are not your own, but you have been bought with a price. God created you. Christ purchased you. The angels in heaven confess “with your blood you purchased men for God” (Revelation 5:9).
How God Speaks to Believers
When God speaks to believers, He speaks to us, not as we are by nature, but as we are in Christ. William Barclay comments:
When the charge is given to Timothy, he is not reminded of his own weakness and his own helplessness and his own inadequacy and his own sin… He is rather challenged by the honor which is his, the honor of being God’s man. [i]
When you read through the New Testament epistles, you don’t find God saying to believers: “You really are a miserable, pathetic failure. You are so weak and helpless and hopeless. When are you going to realize what a miserable failure you are?”
How could that be true of people who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God? God does not tread us down by branding us according to our nature. He lifts us up by calling us to be who we are in Christ.
God speaks to us like this:
Put on the whole armor of God so that when the evil day comes you may be able to stand your ground… (Ephesians 6:13)
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature… (Colossians 3:5)
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage… (1 Corinthians 16:13)
Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness… (1 Timothy 6:11)
Without Christ you were a lost and helpless and hopeless sinner. But now in Christ you are a new creation. God’s Spirit lives in you!
You are God’s man, God’s woman. Be who you are.
[i] William Barclay, Letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, p.155