Thursday, August 7, 2008

Loyalty to the Faith

“Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who lives in us, that good thing entrusted to you… And you know how much he ministered at Ephesus.” (2 Timothy 1:13-18 CSB)

Paul gave Timothy three admonitions which were intended to help him maintain his loyalty to the Christian faith. It isn’t likely that Paul was worried about Timothy wandering away, but he knew that some others in the church at Ephesus where Timothy was serving were, in fact, wandering away. He knew that Timothy as the leader had to set an example for others to follow. Thus, these admonitions.

The first admonition was to hold to the pattern of sound teachings. Paul first modeled these for Timothy. That’s what good leaders do. Now, Timothy was to hold on to that pattern and in turn teach others to do the same. His approach was to be from faith and love.

The second admonition was to guard what was entrusted to him by the Holy Spirit. That would include: truth, spiritual gifts, and the opportunity to serve. It was necessary to “guard” these because they were under attack by those who were deserting the faith and the truth.

Paul mentioned two men – Phygelus and Hermogenes – who were among those who wandered away, and he then mentioned Onesiphorus, one who had remained faithful, both in serving Paul’s needs in Rome as well as having ministered effectively in Ephesus. These mentions underscored the second admonition, and they pointed also to a third one.

The third admonition was to minister to the needs of people from the heart, thereby building relational loyalty. Onesiphorus was the example of this. Paul noted both his commitment to relationships and his determination to minister effectively from people. This man was thus a man of great heart, and Timothy was admonished to observe the example of Onesiphorus and thus seek to minister to the needs of believers in Ephesus from the heart.

Loyalty to the faith includes thus holding on to sound teachings, guarding all that is entrusted to us, and ministering from the heart.

Lord, Help us today to put all of these into action. Amen.

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