The Quest For Character: Legacy

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. (2Timothy 1:1-14 NASB)

To this day, I give credit to Don and Jon Hall and Curtis Martin for mentoring me in my faith as teenager. But it was my grandmother Bonnie, with her body crippled by arthritis, who was faithful in prayer and in setting an example for me. Consider for a moment, who was it who truly kindled your faith?

This may well have been one of Paul's last letters written. He sends it from a prison cell in Rome as he awaits his fate before Caesar's court. It goes out to this young man Timothy, the pastor at the church of Ephesus.

Author and pastor, Bruce Wilkinson, tells about attending a conference many years ago. He discovered that a man sitting off to the side at this conference was the son of a very famous Christian leader. Wilkinson decided to introduce himself to this young man and find out what it was like to grow up in the home of such an admired leader. He worked his way over to the young man and said, "I understand that you're such-and-such, the son of so-and-so." This young man stared right at Wilkinson as he asked, "What was it like, growing up in your father and mother's home? What was it like being the son of such a great Christian leader?" The next thing Wilkinson knew, this young man turned, swore at him, swore at his father, swore about the Bible, and said, "I hate God. I hate Jesus Christ." Then he turned on his heel and walked out of that conference, and didn't come back the rest of the day.

Wilkinson was stunned. He couldn't think of anything more gut-wrenching than having his own children hate him, hate God and hate Christ like that. What had happened to this young fellow, he asked himself, and what could he do to avoid it happening in his own family?

What kind of legacy of faith are we leaving behind? Paul was encouraged by what he saw in Timothy's faith in Jesus Christ. Paul could see both Timothy's response to legacy left by his mother and grandmother and the Timothy's response to Paul's own example. But Paul knew more than Timothy about what was in front, things Timothy had yet to experience namely that suffering goes with the name of Jesus Christ.

The legacy of Faith Paul indicates is one that comes from the Holy Spirit (v. 7). It is a gift of grace. Then Paul uses a unique word here that I really like, a word we translate re-kindle. It is a word related to a fire. Having had a great deal of outdoor experience, one of the things we know is that when lost, the most encouraging thing one can do to help moral is to start a fire. Carefully tended, a fire can die down overnight and then be rekindled in the morning with coals once thought dead.

How we live makes a difference in the lives of others. Faith in Jesus Christ changes the character of a person and it does not easily die and it is worth striving for, protecting and growing. It is what we commit to as a church at every baptism. We testify to it every time we celebrate the gift of eternal life at the Communion table.


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