How Can We Possibly Give Thanks For Such A Gift?
What Paul says to Timothy here, he says also to us. As Christians, baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, we, too, are exhorted to “fan the flames of the gift” that has been given to us by God. (verse 6) And what a gift, indeed. At the core of all of the gifts that God has given to us in the gift of mercy. All the other gifts find their genesis and their grace in this magnanimous gift to us. It is the manifestation of God’s infinite love for us. For this, we give great thanks. How do we give the proper thanks for such a gift?
The first thing Paul reminds us of is that the Spirit that God has given us is not a timid spirit. Rather it “gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (verse 7) This spirit was given to each one of us personally in the waters of our baptism. In it we find our courage to live in accord with the Way that Christ has shown us. The first effect of that spirit, then, is power. It is the power that comes grace, from the confidence of faith. In that power, we can confidently live the message of the Gospels openly. We can BE Christians in all of our thoughts, words, and deeds. If we are acting in accord with this God-given power, it will reveal itself always in thoughts, words and deeds of love, compassion, generosity, and mercy. We will be able to do this if we have taken on the virtue of self-discipline rooted in our faith in Jesus Christ. We will no longer be slaves to the flesh, but servants of love in this world that is so desperate to know and to experience the love of God. This, then, is the Christian life.
Paul reminds us, too, that in joining him, as he has done, in imitation of Jesus, we, too, may suffer for the Gospel. But God will empower us to endure, and to be graceful instruments of love and service, in his name. God will use us to bring others to him. As Christ, and Paul, suffered, so may we. But in suffering in the name of Christ Jesus, we will find the deepest meaning and purpose in our lives. It was through suffering that Jesus brought about our salvation. “He has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” (verse 9) And this grace was made manifest to history for all time in Jesus.
Like Paul, like Timothy, we, too, are called to be “heralds, apostles and teachers” of the Gospel. This is true of every Christian. We are to answer that call in and through the unique, personal gifts and talents that we have each been given by God. We are to answer this call in the contexts of our daily lives. This duty belongs to every Christian, not just the ordained. We can do this, with confidence, and without shame, because we, “know whom [we] have believed, and [we] are convinced that he is able to guard what [we] have entrusted to him until that day.” Yes. We believe that God’s love will be our guard until that Last Day. Thanks be to the the Living God!
Let us hear and reflect deeply upon these words of Paul today, for we know that they come to us directly from the Holy Spirit. We can indeed be confident that God is both our gift-giver and our guard. He will protect those he loves with faithfulness. Lord, we believe; help our unbelief. It is the deepest desire of our hearts to love all others as you have loved us. Help us to know the intimate power of your presence in our hearts and minds, our words and deeds, throughout the course of our days. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!
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