In 1 Timothy, Paul had given instructions to Timothy on the qualifications of overseers. They must be exemplary in their character and effective in their primary ministry of teaching. Here, the same points are reiterated for Timothy to apply in his own life—both what he should be and what he should do.
Timothy is urged to “be strong” (v.1). We are reminded of how Joshua was also repeatedly urged to be strong as he assumed leadership before the conquest of Canaan (Joshua 1:7,9,18). The task was extremely difficult, but God was with him and promised him success. Likewise, Timothy is urged to be strong amid the difficult circumstances of his ministry. He was timid by nature, but God would give him supernatural strength according to the difficulty of the task. This strength that comes from God is “in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (v.1). We can pray and trust God for such strength. As clergyman Phillips Brooks advised, “Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.”
Timothy is also urged to “entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (v.2). He had received the gospel and the apostolic teaching from Paul. Now he must pass on what he had received and learned. We see here a living stream in which the gospel is passed on faithfully from one generation of leaders and teachers to the next. Paul received it and passed it to Timothy. Timothy is to do the same with others he is mentoring. He must ensure that they too would do the same. The gospel is like an Olympic flame or baton that is passed on from one runner to the next. Every teacher must ensure that he is not the weakest link in this chain. He can do this by relying on the grace of Christ to be strong, so that he will not drop the baton because of fear, distraction, or fatigue.
In summary, Paul urges Timothy to be strong and to be faithful in his teaching and mentoring ministry. This combination of God-given inner strength and diligent ministry that continues from generation to generation is illustrated in the three metaphors that Paul uses in the next passage.
What are the differences between man-made strength and God-given strength? Can you recall instances when you experienced how “God [was] the strength of [your] heart” (Psalms 73:26)? Why is God’s strength needed to do God’s work?
Who are the “Pauls” in your life who have entrusted the gospel and the truths of God to you? Who are the “Timothys” to whom you must entrust what you have received? How can this ongoing mentoring process be strengthened in the church?