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Remember Jesus Christ

In the second epistle of Paul to Timothy, Paul gave Timothy many instructions as he anticipated his own death.  Paul charged Timothy to be bold and not to be ashamed in his service to the Lord (1:6-12). He entrusted the gospel to Timothy and urged him to entrust it to others who would be faithful (1:13-2:2).  He encouraged Timothy to serve like a good soldier, a hard-working farmer, a diligent workman, a sanctified vessel, and a gentle servant (2:3-26).  He warned Timothy of the coming apostasy (3:1-9), and he commended the word of God to Timothy as the means for combating that apostasy (3:10-4:5).  Paul gave these instructions to Timothy as a way of passing the torch, for Paul had run his race and his time in this world was quickly ending (4:6-8).  It was now Timothy's time to carry on the work of accurately teaching and preserving the gospel of Christ.

Among these instructions is one so obvious that it seems almost unnecessary to give it. In 2Timothy 2:8, Paul wrote, "Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel."  Of course, Jesus Christ is the reason and cause for everything that Paul wrote to Timothy.  The Lord's name is used throughout this letter so that it would seem impossible for Timothy to forget Him.  Why then did Paul command Timothy to remember Jesus?  How could he think that Timothy might have forgotten the Lord?

Paul's instruction for Timothy to remember Jesus was a matter of focus and motivation.  It was not that Timothy was in danger of forgetting Jesus, but rather Paul was giving him the focal point that was necessary to endure the trials set before him.  Just as the Lord Jesus had been Paul's motivation that enabled him to successfully endure his trials, now He would be Timothy's motivation.  Notice Paul's instruction again in the larger context of 2Timothy 2:7-13:

7Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.  8Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, 9for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned.  10For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.  11It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 13If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

Without a proper focus on Jesus and His cause in the gospel, Paul would have failed. He could not and would not have endured these hardships for any other cause.  However, because he constantly remembered Jesus, he could endure anything (2Cor. 11:16-33; Phil. 4:13).  Paul's life was all about Christ (Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:21), and he knew that Christ was worthy of all his suffering.  As he passed his responsibility in the gospel on to Timothy, he knew that Timothy would need this same focus to be successful.  At every step of the way, Timothy needed to remember Jesus.

Timothy's work in the gospel concluded long ago, but these instructions to him are preserved for our sake.  We who are Christians are part of that chain of succession in 2Timothy 2:2, in which Paul told Timothy to entrust the things he had heard from Paul to "faithful men, who will be able to teach others also." These things belong to us now, and with them comes the instruction of 2Timothy 2:8: "Remember Jesus Christ." Like Timothy, if we are to be successful in the gospel, then our focus must be upon the Lord each step of the way. A similar message is given in Hebrews 12:1-3:

1Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  3For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

In the hard times of trials and temptations, our focus on Jesus will enable us to endure and finish the race just as Paul did.  For those who finish, there is reserved a crown of righteousness which the Lord will award to all who have loved His appearing (2Tim. 4:8).

Therefore, may we never forget Jesus Christ.  When we are weighed down with a burden of hardship, let us remember Him. When we are lured by temptation, let us remember Him.  When we are defending the truth of His word, let us remember Him.  When we are combating apostasy and compromise with the world, let us remember Him.  When we suffer insults and rejection because of our faith and conviction in the gospel, let us remember Him.  If we are persecuted by the authorities of this world for the gospel, then let us remember Him.  If we lose the last friends that we have on earth for His sake, then let us remember Him. Regardless of what may come in this life because of our association with Jesus Christ, He will be worth all of the difficulty.  Remember this, and never forget Him.

Stacey E. Durham




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