The Divine Reaction (continued)
Timothy An Instrument of the Divine Reaction
Now let us come to the Divine reaction more particularly and specifically. I would ask you to take note of this. Timothy himself is at this point being marked out as the instrument of the Divine reaction to the existing trend of things. And Timothy therefore assumes the role of a "sign". Now, that is not a new idea in the Bible, is it? Ezekiel was told by the Lord that He had made a sign for the house of Israel (Ezekiel 12:6, 11; 24:24, 27). And Timothy comes into that position or function, as a sign: he must himself be indicative of what spiritual features are, what spirituality is. Let us then look at Timothy - first of all, shall we say, negatively - remembering that he is himself a symbol of things essential to recovery. We are going to find much comfort and help here, all of us. What are these things?
First of all, weakness. You can despise Timothy, if you like; they did that when he was alive. Paul said to him: Let no man despise thy youth" (1 Timothy 4:12). Naturally, he was despised, and in weakness. Then, dependence. It looked as though Paul was providing him with a set of crutches to help him to keep on his feet! So much of what Paul wrote to Timothy indicated these things about him. Speaking of Timothy naturally, you might say that he was evidently a very timid, nervous sort of young man, who needed all the time to be bucked up. Surely, Timothy must have been very weak, seeing all these things were necessary!
Weakness and Dependence The Ground for Spirituality
Look at it that way, if you like; but there are other ways of looking at it. This is the most suitable and promising ground for spirituality - indeed, it is absolutely essential to the thing that God is after and Paul was after! What shall we say about Timothy? Paul thought a very great deal of him; Paul, who did not usually err in the matter of wisdom and discretion, put Timothy into a very, very important place. Timothy was an apostle, although he was never called that. Timothy was an elder, although he was never called that. But Timothy was more. There was in Timothy a combination of all the functions from an evangelist to a church-builder. "Do the work of an evangelist ". He was the elder among the elders of the church at Ephesus - no small responsibility! Think of Ephesus. What was Paul thinking of, sending someone like Timothy to put things right at Ephesus, to take charge in Ephesus, to correct and to build in Ephesus? Preposterous to send a young fellow like that, of this kind!
Well, spiritual and natural abilities are in altogether different worlds! And when God reacts to recover, or acts to provide against a threat, a peril, a danger that has the characteristics we have noted, He brings His instrument down to nothingness - He empties it out and makes it more conscious of its weakness and of its dependence than of anything else. In this greatest of all works of God - the maintaining of His testimony in absolute purity and truth - there is no place whatever, among those who are involved, for assumption: for assuming that they are something, or assuming that they can do something, or assuming that they are called to do this or that. There is no place, either, for presumption - that is, running ahead of God, running ahead of the Spirit. There is no place for self-importance, for self-sufficiency, for self-assertiveness - no place for any of these things. If you and I are going to be used for spiritual purposes, God will take us in hand to drain us of the last drop of anything like that, until we know that of all men we are the most unfit and unsuited to the thing to which God has called us; that from all natural standpoints we have no right to be in that position at all. That is God's way of making spiritual men and women.
(continued with # 47 - (Strength Through Grace)