2 Timothy 1:3-5 – Thank the Lord for the Family of Believers! Pentecost 20 Nov. 03, 2019
By Pastor Ken Mellon, Trinity Lutheran Church and School, Pleasant Valley Rd., West Bend, WI
Grace and peace have been shown to us so that we are the family of God in Christ Jesus. Amen.
God’s Word that gives encouraging words to us as a Christian congregation is in 2 Timothy 1:3-5
Dear Lord, thank you for giving us fellowship around your Word to keep our faith in Christ alone. Your Word is truth. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Family of Christ,
As we consider Paul’s words from his letter to Timothy, we want to see the importance of his message to keep our focus on the mission Christ has given us. Paul wrote his letter while imprisoned in Rome. The emperor Nero had blamed Christians for the fire that burned the city. Christianity had not only been banned, the emperor made it an act of treason to worship Christ instead of him. In his wrath against Christians, Nero arrested leaders like Paul, making examples of them by public execution. As Paul sat in the darkness of his prison, waiting to die, he thought of Timothy, a young man that he had trained and loved as if he were his own child. Timothy hadn’t always strong in his witness. Paul was concerned that the difficulties Timothy faced in his life would affect his work for the Lord.
We Christians today are not in a life and death struggle like Paul, but we are affected by the power of evil in the world. We need encouragement to keep making known the saving message of Christ. There are people all around us who need to hear God’s Word, members and non-members. We must work together if we are to make a difference in their lives. Let’s look at Paul’s concern for Timothy, and how the same concern for each other will help us stay Christ-centered. God help us to:
Thank the Lord for the family of believers!
First, why should we be thankful for other Christians? We’re all sinners. We all need Christ’s forgiveness. We often lack love and patience. God should have never chosen any of us to believe, let alone to carry on His work! What a privilege it is to gather together as believers. Put yourself in Paul’s place, alone in a dark prison. How he must have longed to gather with believers in worship as we are doing today! O, how we should thank God for the blessing of worshipping together! God is using His Word and Sacraments to prepare us for our life together in heaven.
But there are so many temptations that keep us from fellowship together. We have different backgrounds and different opinions. We can ask: Why did Jesus choose the people He did to be His disciples? Some caught fish and others were businessmen. Matthew had been a tax collector for the Romans while Simon the Zealot had hated anyone associated with Rome. Whenever the 12 men were on their own, they were fighting over who should have the best seats at dinner or who would get the most praise in heaven. But Jesus turned their lives upside down. Their Master put their needs first by serving them and dying for them to rescue them from their sins. He who always honored God was raised to life to assure believers that He had prepared a place in heaven for them! Later, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to give them a better understanding of the importance of their mission. They put aside their differences, to proclaim the eternal love of God’s forgiveness in Christ. We read in Acts 2, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship…. All the believers were together…. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people” (Acts 2:42, 44, 46-47).
The Apostle Paul had the same attitude toward Timothy as those early Christians. He was thankful to bring the truths and love of Christ to him. We too should daily thank God that He has chosen us to believe in Christ and to work together. Paul wrote that he “remembered [Timothy] in his prayers day and night” (v.3). How often do we pray for each other? An older pastor once gave me advice as I began my ministry. He said that daily he opened his directory of the congregation and prayed for the members. I have done the same throughout my ministry including my time with you. How much better our work would be if all of us got out our directories and prayed for each other whether we know people, are friends, or not at all. Let us call on the Lord for Jesus to bless everyone in this congregation just as Paul prayed for Timothy!
Paul also wrote, “I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy” (v.4). Second, why is worship together important? Do we meet here only to honor God? Except for the sacraments being administered here at this church, we should honor God anywhere. Are we here only to hear God’s Word? We could hear God’s Word at any time. Why is it so important for us worship together? Paul’s time of worship was not for himself, but for others. Paul wanted to join with Timothy in worship so that Timothy’s faith was built up and he would be encouraged to serve the Lord. Our worshipping together serves the same purpose.
We read in Hebrews 10:24-25, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another….” We all have our challenges like Paul and Timothy. So, God has put us here to assure each other as Christians that we are not alone. Relationships of love and mutual respect are vital.
To maintain any relationship in life, there must be concern for each other and a love that forgives others. When these is missing in a marriage, the relationship of husband and wife is strained or can end in divorce. In our relationship with other Christians, we need the same attitude of love. John wrote, “This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us so much, we also should love one another” (1 John 4:10-11). In most of Paul’s 13 letters in the Bible letters he encourages the believers for the sake of the gospel to be patient, kind, compassionate, and forgiving of each other! We also heard Jesus say the same in our Gospel lesson today.
Third, let us thank the Lord for each other as together we speak God’s truths to all. Paul reminded Timothy about his sincere faith in Christ “which first lived in [his] grandmother Lois and [his] mother Eunice … and in him” (v.5). This is an example of a Bible truth: God will bless the efforts of Christians as they work together to bring the saving truth of Jesus to others. Timothy’s grandmother and mother had instructed him in God’s truth about the coming Savior. Paul shared with him that that Savior was Jesus! What joy Paul had as he believed. Later, Timothy had that same joy as he witnessed to others!
We also should rejoice, that God in His grace is working through the members of our congregation to make an eternal difference for other people. We’ve had 10 baptisms so far this year. The most recent one was a young women who lives nearby. What joy she and her family had as she confessed her faith and received Christ’s forgiveness through baptism! Teachers of our Sunday school and Christian Day School have had opportunities to bring the saving news of Christ to children so they too, may believe! Jesus said that the angels of heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents and so should we, as we think of living with saints in glory!” Let’s pray that God will give us greater vision to see how blessed we are to be among our family of believers in Christ: “O Lord, we give you thanks for our fellowship with believers here. Help us appreciate each other and to work together so that your saving truth may bless all people. In Jesus’ name, Amen