“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness,”–2 Timothy 3:10 ESV
We have been learning what it means to follow a good leader, and how to be a good leader ourselves. We are doing this by reading Paul’s last letter to his spiritual child, Timothy, who was a pastor in Ephesus.
The Christian faith depends upon not only faithful discipleship, but on faithful disciples who continue in the pattern they have received. In their last two posts in this series we looked at 3 ways we need to follow the good Christian leader:
- Follow the Same Doctrine
- Follow the Same Conduct
Follow the Same Purpose
4. Follow with the Same Faithfulness
The Greek word pistos refers not just to the content of our faith, but it also can be rendered “faithfulness.”
Faith, in general, means to believe in something, to have confidence and trust in something or someone, but Hebrews 11:1 defines it more accurately. It says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, ESV)
Faith Lived Out
It is important to note that this definition of faith comes at the head of a whole chapter of earthly struggles that God’s people overcame in the strength of the Lord. Hebrews 11 shows us that biblical faith is not a painless faith, it is not an easy faith. To believe is only part of it. But faith runs deep and it trust God even in the hardest and darkest times.
Think about what Paul is going through at the time he penned these words to Timothy. He is facing certain death and his life up to this point has been hard. Read with me 2 Cor 6:4-10 to remember what Paul suffered for Christ: “but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” (2 Corinthians 6:4–10, ESV)
Do you see how faith looks when it is lived out? Paul wants Timothy to have this sort of faith. Surely he had seen the suffering and hatred he faced. Paul’s teaching, conduct and aim in life had led to this sort of treatment for him, and it would surely lead to this in Timothy’s life as well. And will have this response if we follow the model Christ laid out for us as well.
Timothy seemed to have struggled with wavering faith that resulted in fear and shame at times.
- “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God,” (2 Timothy 1:7–8, ESV)
- which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.” (2 Timothy 1:12, ESV)
- “May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains,” (2 Timothy 1:16, ESV)
- “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15, ESV)
Timothy needed to learn that “the promises of God are true and reliable.” We need that lesson too.