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Monday, January 26, 2015

God's Reactions to Man's Defections # 48

The Divine Reaction (continued)

Endurance Only Possible Through Spiritual Measure

"Endure hardness" - hardship - "as a good soldier" (2 Timothy 2:3). Endure. Just think for a moment what Timothy was called upon to endure at that time. You perhaps have not any idea of the situation. I have re-read lately the account of those persecutions of the Christians which came about through Nero, and through the Jews - the unspeakable horrors of cruelty to men, to women, to children, to families. I should shock you if I mentioned the inhuman, indescribable atrocities that literally hundreds of thousands of Christians suffered at the hands of those Roman Emperors. When Nero commanded the burning of Rome, a scapegoat had to be found upon whom the blame could be laid, and it was laid upon the Jews: and the Jews said No, it was the Christians; and so the Christians were taken. You are not surprised at the sufferings of thousands of His precious children were tortured in unspeakable agony, for many decades.

Timothy was in the presence of that growing shadow. He knew that his father in Christ was in prison and shortly to suffer death. He knew that those who had been near Paul in Rome had left him. And Paul said: "At my first defense o one took my part, but all forsook me" (2 Timothy 4:16). Timothy was in the presence of that! Endurance! Who could endure but by the mighty power of the Spirit? You want spiritual measure for that, you need the enduring power of Christ for that; that is spiritual endurance, not just natural courage.

We see, then, that, at all times of peril to His Church, at all times of danger, when things are threatening, and a change seems to be coming about, the Lord, in the first place, always tries to get His people on to higher spiritual ground: He always seeks to increase spiritual measure, to bring things over from the merely professional and formal on to the ground of spiritual life and spiritual character. And, secondly, He seeks to remind us that we are "God's men": we are not the men of a system, not men of the world, not men of our own natural ambitions - we are God's men. It is significant, is it not, that Timothy's name (Timo-theos) means  "honoring God". That is the key to everything, as with him, so with us: that is spirituality.

The Divine Resource

In thinking about Timothy as himself a symbol of the need, and of God's method of meeting it, we noted, on the one side, the neediness of Timothy - how he is presented in these letters as one in need in every way - and, on the other side, the urge that the Apostle brought to bear upon him, the tremendous responsibility which the Apostle indicated as resting upon him. We noted all the words of exhortation and command, which seemed to make such great demands upon this young man. "O Timothy ...", says the Apostle, "I charge thee in the sight of God ..."; and he appeals to him more than once to "Be strong", "Endure hardship as a good soldier", "Give diligence to show thyself approved unto God", and so on. And all this, as we saw, was in the light of the situation, terrible persecution of Christians that was coming about, to which Paul, so soon after writing this last letter, fell a victim - and Timothy knew all about it. It was indeed putting much upon a weak vessel. It was making tremendous demands upon one who, in himself, speaking quit naturally, was not of great account. Even physically he was apparently at a discount, for the Apostle refers to "thine oft infirmities." Evidently Timothy went down under some malady, repeatedly and often.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 49)

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