Paul refers to two resources that would help Timothy maintain his Christian character in the godless world of the last days: godly mentors and Scripture.
Instead of giving in to the godless ways of the world or giving up godliness, Timothy is urged by Paul to “continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of” (v.14). This is possible because “you know those from whom you learned it” (v.14), which refers to Paul as well as Timothy’s mother and grandmother. They were key mentors in Timothy’s life and spiritual formation. We see here the power of godly mentoring in helping Christians to stand firm amid a worsening world. Our mentors are like the “great cloud of witnesses” who cheer us on the way so that we can run the race faithfully and finish it successfully (Hebrews 12:1). Remembering our mentors and what they have taught us will help us to walk uprightly in a sinful world.
The second great resource is Scripture. Paul reminds Timothy that from a young age he had learned the Scriptures (thanks to the faithful mentors in his family) and had been shaped by them (v.15). He must continue to hold on to God’s Word and live by it. Scripture makes us wise and leads us to salvation in Christ (v.15). We will read the Bible seriously when we remember its origins and purpose (v.16). It is the God-breathed, inspired revelation of God, which has power to teach, rebuke, correct, and train us in righteousness.
In other words, it is necessary that we read the Bible carefully with a view to letting it shape, confront, and guide us if we are to grow in Christ. John Stott is right in observing that “Scripture is the chief means which God employs to bring the ‘man of God’ to maturity”. Not only does the Bible help to produce Christian character (as the Holy Spirit brings God’s Word into our lives), but it also helps to produce Christian ministry as the believer is “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (v.17). In the sinful world of the last days, both Christian character and ministry are greatly needed.
Who are your mentors? How are you helped to be faithful to God by their example and teaching? Are you such a mentor to others?
How has the Bible taught, rebuked, corrected, and trained you in recent days? How can you improve your Bible reading and meditation so that Christian character and ministry can be more powerfully expressed in your life?