this is the transcript of a sermon I preached in August 2012.
I love history! I can watch the history channel for hours! When I was in high school, history was my best subject, that and art. When I was a full time student at the Moody Bible Institute, my children were 10 and 7 years old. I needed to finish school as quick as possible, before they became teenagers, so I took some summer courses. Of course, I took Christian and Western Culture, I loved it! It was a semester worth of work crammed into an intense 3 weeks of church history but I thrived in it and I was sad when it was over.
As we read, Paul recognized the legacy that Timothy came from. He says “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you” (verse 5). He knew that his legacy went back to his grandmother and mother and that his faith was sincere and without hypocrisy. Not only the legacy from his grandmother and mother but the legacy that Paul has imparted in Timothy in the ministry. They have history together. We can read about Paul’s relationship to Timothy in many places in the New Testament. In 1 Cor. 4:17 Paul writes, “For this reason I sent you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ Jesus…” Paul trusted Timothy to share the Gospel message just as if it were Paul himself.
“Paul, imprisoned in Rome as a result of persecution under Nero, realized, when he wrote this letter, that his death was near. Alone and cold in his dungeon, the veteran missionary wrote to his young son in the faith this intensely personal letter” (Ryrie Study Bible, Intro to 2 Timothy). Paul’s relationship with Timothy was important to him. Unlike the other Pauline Epistles, that were written to churches, the two letters to Timothy and Titus are considered personal often referred to as the pastoral letters.
Paul wants to remind Timothy to rekindle the gift of God that is within him. The word “rekindle” or in some translations “kindle afresh” (NASB) or “fan the flame” (NIV) means to stir up, strength, inflame one’s mind. Paul is not suggesting that Timothy’s fire is going out but rather a friendly reminder to keep it going. “The image is of a campfire that is kept going for days on end and requires to be fanned into a fresh flame each morning” (New Interpreters, 833).
But before Paul gives Timothy this reminder, he mentions Timothy’s grandmother, Lois and his mother, Eunice. This is not the first time Timothy’s heritage is mentioned in the Bible. In Acts 16:1 Luke writes, “Paul* went on also to Derbe and to Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek.” Timothy is like a son to Paul. In the book of Acts we can read about how he took Timothy under his wing and showed him the ropes in ministry. Paul remembers their work together and he longs to see him to experience joy, “this is the only mention of joy in the pastoral letters” (New Interpreters, 833). Paul knows that part of his legacy in the ministry is with Timothy.
We all have a legacy to pass on, even organizations. But how does the Methodist campground preserve its legacy? I understand you had VBS here a few weeks ago for the children. I have taught VBS, it is a lot of work. The preparation, the activities, the clean-up. You need a vacation from the vacation bible school! But impact on the lives of the children that attended cannot be measured.
As I read your vision statement I was impressed at your vision to preserve the legacy of the Methodist Campground. “We will stay this loving community; By caring for our body (historic buildings) by creating educational programs (to develop our minds) and to have Christian programs in order to hear God’s words and have the Holy Spirit move us.” But in order for the legacy of this community to continue it first must be personal.
Billy Graham said…“Our days are numbered. One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day. The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day.”
In 2000, I was working for a small charismatic church on the northwest side of Chicago. I was the church secretary to a young pastor and his wife, they were not even 30 years old yet. They were new to the pastorate. She was just as active in the ministry as he was. They were partners in every sense. I got to known them quite well and enjoyed working for them. Elis was vibrant. She was sassy and classy all at the same time. She was an advocate of education. One day she came into the office and said, “Stephanie, we are blessed to have you work for us, but you need to think about going back to school. God has something bigger for you.” She planted a seed in my life.
In September 2002, Elis died suddenly. I was heartbroken. The church was heartbroken. I knew that my life would never be the same. I knew that I needed to do something to honor her legacy. So I applied to Bible college. When I was accepted, I was shocked. I could not believe that I was actually going to college. It was a difficult time. It had been 11 years since I graduated from high school, so much had changed. My children were in grammar school, money was tight because I could only work part-time. Sometimes when I thought I couldn’t continue another semester, I would think about Elis and her legacy in my life. Even as I stand here today, I think about how her life touched mine and how I continue to try to honor her legacy.
Like Paul, we all have a legacy to pass on to the Timothys in our lives. Or we were once a Timothy to someone else. Who are the Timothys in your lives? Who do you need to encourage to rekindle their flame? How do we share our legacy?
Paul answers that in verse 7, “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.”
As believers we have the power to “pass the breaking point and not break” (Barclay, 162). “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Our strength or ability comes from Him. Even if it seems that our interaction with others seems casual or unimportant, we must be confident in our role in someone’s life because the Holy Spirit lives within us. We should always strive to be the representation of Christ.
As believers, we have Christ’s love to share with other. “And of love, which enables us to hear, believe, hope, and endure all things; and is the incentive to all obedience.” One of my favorite passages is 1 Cor. 13, Love bears all things. We all have a different way of doing things but if love is the motivation, we can truly represent Christ to others and ultimately live up to the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God and to love your neighbor as yourself.”
As believers, we have the self-discipline. Or in the King James Version it is “sound mind”. This “divinely given control of self which makes people great rulers of others because they are first of all servants of Christ and in complete control of themselves” (Barclay, 162). Self-discipline here is not like self-control but rather setting a good example so that others will follow you.
Paul left a tremendous legacy in Timothy’s life and he was confident that Timothy would continue it. What will your legacy be to those lives you’ve touched? What will be the legacy of the Methodist Campground? If we know the power we have in Christ’s love, we can accomplish anything and leave a legacy for generations to come.