The Divine Reaction (continued)
Strength Through Grace
Now, if you are acute in your mental activity, you may have thought you are catching me out on this, because in these letters Paul is telling Timothy he must be strong, and I have just said he must be weak! Paul is as good as telling him he must be full, and I have said he must be empty! Ah, yes, but if Timothy was to be all that Paul said he must be, then it would all be spiritual and not natural. Is that born out by the context? Of course it is! "Be strong" - but it does not stop there. "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:1). That is no self-strength, that is not natural strength of any kind. "The grace that is in Christ Jesus" - be strong in that. So we see what is the strength in the case of Timothy, as the symbol of God's reactionary method and means in a day of declension. The strength is to be spiritual strength.
That works both ways. It is a word of encouragement to those who are conscious of no strength, who only feel their weakness; as though to say: 'Look here, that is not the criterion, how weak you feel, at all: the criterion is "the grace that is in Christ Jesus." ' And it works the other way. If any of us should feel that we can do it, and press into the situation or into the position, and take it on, assuming or presuming, then we are in for a bad time under the hand of God - that is if we are going to be of any use to the Lord. And any such attitude is going to be emptied out.
All Functions To Be Spiritual, Not Natural or Official
"Let no man despise thy youth." Well, then, what is to be the reaction of Timothy when he finds men despising him? Suppose you are a young man: how would you react if you were in his place, and I said: 'Don't you let them despise you! Don't you let them have that attitude toward you!"? What would you do? You could act very much in the flesh, couldn't you? You could begin, as they say, to be "chesty" - peacockish, they mean - and spoil it all by a false dignity, by an artificial personality that is not yourself. Authority in the House of God is spiritual. There is authority about a man or woman who has real spiritual measure, that weighs, that counts, but let spiritual measure be found with them, and you will find that in times of difficulty they are the ones to whom people turn. We may touch again upon spiritual authority later.
The knowledge and the understanding are to be spiritual. The office, if you like to use that word, whether it be of elder, overseer, teacher, evangelist, or whatever it is, is to be spiritual, not official. You do that because you are that. It simply comes out because that is how you are spiritually constituted - it is how the Holy Spirit has constituted you. Oh, what tragedies we have seen, through people trying to be teachers, or whatever it may be, because they like it, it appeals to them, and the Holy Spirit has not qualified them for it. It is just like the peacock's tail - when it has gone! Still strutting about, but there is nothing behind it! Is there anything more pathetic? What is the good of it all, if it is not of the Holy Spirit?
(continued with # 48 - Endurance Only Possible Through Spiritual Measure)