Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Epistle reading this week, from 2 Timothy 2, calls Timothy to “be strengthened” (v. 1). It’s encouraging to me when I see the passive imperatives in the Scripture. An imperative makes a command. But a passive imperative is a command to receive something, not to do something. Timothy is not told to strengthen someone. He is not told to strengthen himself. He is told to receive strength. The great news here is that the Christian life is not about us pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps or doing great works for the Lord. It is about receiving what the Lord has given us. Timothy is to be strengthened by the grace of God found in Jesus.
Where is Timothy going to get this strength? It’s the easiest thing in the world, because God wants to give it to him. Timothy receives it by paying attention to the Gospel taught and preached by Paul, along with many others in the early Christian Church. He receives it by hearing what God has spoken to His people. And in verse two we see that the Gospel is not something which has been kept in secret. It is proclaimed by many, in the presence of many, and is to be passed down to others who will then pass it to still more.
Many in our world want to think the Gospel is a matter of some sort of secret knowledge. Maybe we are supposed to seek out hidden truth, like panning for gold. Maybe we need to find just the right teacher who will open our eyes to what it means to be really, truly, deeply spiritual. We are called to find authentic Christianity and to dig deep within for special wisdom.
Paul’s call to Timothy is quite the opposite. He tells him, and us, that God’s riches of grace, mercy, peace, and wisdom are right there for the taking. All we have to do is receive what the Lord has given us. We, like Timothy, can be strengthened in the grace which is in Christ Jesus. Let us rejoice as we receive God’s gifts freely.
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