2 Timothy 1:3-14
Paul’s letters come in so many shapes and sizes. Sometimes he seems so humble, yet so full of world-changing ideas and deep theology that we must wrestle the meaning out of his words through meticulous study. Other times, I find myself chuckling in worship when his tone sounds melodramatic, irritated, or boastful. How very human Paul is in his letters! This second letter to Timothy is no different, though his tone here sounds confident, affectionate, and encouraging. Paul, a mentor to Timothy, writes to bolster his younger friend and student. He reminds Timothy that this young man has inherited the sincere faith that lived first in the women who came before him: his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois.
Many of us have family members, friends, and mentors who helped nurture and grow the seeds of our faith. In this way, spiritual formation is not simply a task one takes on in silence before a home altar or in euphoric retreats. Formation happens in conversations over dinner and in lessons learned and passed down from generation to generation.
Hear the affection Paul has for Timothy: I am grateful to God…when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy (vv. 3-4). Their example reminds us that we Christians need each other. At its best, the church helps us to build these important relationships with the faithful ones who came before us and the faithful ones who will live on after us.
Who helped to nourish the seeds of your faith? Which friends, family members, mentors, pastors, and teachers help it continue to grow? And whose faith might bloom all the more with the help of your prayers, love, and encouragement?
Holy Spirit who lives in each of us, thank you for the gift of teachers and friends who help light our way. Grant us opportunities to share the love and encouragement they passed on to us with those who need it most. Amen.