Second Reading: 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14
Be Strong In the Lord
When have you had times of doubt about faith? What sort of advice have you give fellow Christians when they encountered times of doubt?
6 So, I remind you. Fire up God's gift to you. You received it when I laid my hands on your head. 7 God did not give us a coward's spirit. No! He gave us his Spirit of power and love and self-control. 8 So, don't be ashamed of what you say about our Lord. And don't be ashamed about me, a prisoner for Jesus. Instead, let God's power make you strong when you share the Good News.
13 Use the wholesome words you heard from me as a model. I spoke about faith and love. I spoke about Jesus Christ. 14 Guard you fine decision to follow Jesus. Ask God's Spirit who lives in us to help you.
6 Because of that reason, I remind you to kindle anew the grace of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but (one) of power, of love, of self-control. 8 So, neither should you be shamed by testimony to our LORD, nor of me, a prisoner for him, but bear suffering together in the Good News by the power of God.
13 Hold on as a model the healthy words which you heard from me in faith and love, the (ones) in CHRIST JESUS. 14 Guard (your) good (faith) commitment by means of the Holy Spirit, the (one) dwelling within us.
1:13 "the healthy words" is literally "words being healthy."
Ever hear about the problems of the preacher's son? The son may treat faith with indifference or even hostility. But, in almost every case, the son finds himself tentative about a relationship with God at some time in life.
2 Timothy addressed people like the preacher's son. The author (Paul, his secretary, or a disciple?) reminded Timothy of his faith heritage. His mother and grandmother were followers. And, he had been ordained (laying on of hands in 1:6b) for ministry. The author's exhortation to "fire up" the gift of his ordination and the insinuation of cowardice (1:7a) seemed to indicate Timothy had second thoughts about being a Christian. The author backed up that insinuation when he urged Timothy not to be shamed by the young man's evangelization nor the apostle's imprisonment. The author impressed upon the young man the dangers of such activity. They could lead to public ridicule and persecution; but both were bearable with God's power.
The author finished with two pieces of advice. First, use the words of the experienced evangelist as a paradigm for spreading the Good News. Second, guard his commitment with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Like Timothy, like the preacher's son, we may experience times when our faith is tentative. We may feel shame simply for being Christian, especially in the light of a scandal (Catholics know this feeling all too well in light of the sex abuse scandals). But, like the author reminds us, we must remember faith comes from God and depends on God. He did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but a Spirit of love, faith, and self-control. That Spirit dwells in us. Our responsibility lies in protecting that precious gift, in keeping the faith.
How has the Spirit strengthen your faith? How have you protected your faith commitment?