“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it” (2 Timothy 3:14).
It is nearly the start of a new school year. It is a time of change in schedule and return to routine. This time of year brings all sorts of new “beginnings” and yet it brings all sorts of opportunities to build upon what has come before. I love how the Apostle Paul connects these two realities in his letter to the younger pastor Timothy. Timothy after all will soon be entering a “new” chapter in his ministry. Paul will no longer be with him as he has in the
past. Paul also will not be there to give him the direction, leadership, and guidance that he once did. Yet, in the midst of this new challenge, Paul provides Timothy both the remembrance and the encouragement he needs as he launches into a new season of life.
First, Paul reminds Timothy of the strong foundation upon which his faith has been grounded. Timothy’s faith has been built brick by brick upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. The builders have been more than passing strangers. Instead, they have been those that he has known and trusted. His mother and grandmother have lovingly placed the word of God in his heart and mind. Paul himself has painstakingly raised up Timothy along the way. In the midst of a shaky and tumultuous world, Timothy is able to have a rock-solid faith because he knows “from whom he has learned it.” There have been others who have given him the gift of Jesus, the one reliable source of stability in a world of so many conflicting claims. Where do you see those faithful fellow believers at work in your life? Where might you find more who would come alongside you in this journey of faith? Where are you being called to provide that steady influence into the lives of other Christians, especially those younger in the faith?
Second, Paul gives Timothy the needed encouragement for this new chapter in life, as he urges Timothy to “continue.” There are many things that we “start” in our lives. We start various diets, exercise plans, personal goals, etc., but how well do we do at “continuing” what we have started? And yet we know that the ability to “continue” often comes from the momentum that is keeping us moving forward. Paul invites Timothy to look back as he sees how far he has come. He encourages Timothy to consider what he has learned, experienced, and believed for that is the key as he “continues” in what God has in store for his life. Where is God inviting you to celebrate your past that it might prepare you for the future? Where is God encouraging you to learn from your experiences that it might propel you in your ongoing journey? Where is God challenging you to continue steadfast in your faith?
As we ourselves find ourselves at a time of transition into a “new chapter” may you continue in what you have firmly believed because of those from whom you have learned it. May your experience of growth in the past prepare you for your continued growth in the present. For each and every day that we “continue” this journey of faith, we remember that we do not journey alone, for as Paul says elsewhere, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). May you continue to apply the good news of God’s gospel grace in Jesus Christ to your life each and every day.
God’s Peace, Pastor Kurt Ebert