Virtual Reality | Day 22
Christian leaders love people enough to supplement telling the truth with showing them the truth and the way (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Today I want to address two principal expressions of the devoted life.
EXPRESSION 1: FOLLOWING (2 Timothy 3:10-11)
The first component of a devoted heart is the willingness to follow Christ with our lives.
You, however, have followed…(2 Timothy 3:10, ESV)
The Greek word translated as “have followed” has a rich New Testament pedigree. It is translated in a whole range of ways including: to accompany, pay attention to, act on the basis of, to imitate, but also disciple, and follower. You will recall that in the Gospels people who were healed are said to have “followed” Jesus. The use of the word in almost every case signifies a willingness to follow Him as a disciple. In the Bible, devotion is expressed through a willingness to follow.
In Paul’s time a young Jewish boy who was pursuing a life in Judaism with the goal of one day becoming a rabbi (a teacher of the Scriptures) would align himself in total dedication to a specific rabbi. The student would learn all he could from the rabbi, travel with the teacher wherever he went, live and eat and spend every moment with him for many years. In fact, a student would keep so close and walk so closely behind his rabbi as they traveled the dirt trails from town to town that the following blessing was coined: “May you be covered in the dust of your rabbi.” The blessing was designed to encourage the student to listen carefully to his teacher, to follow his instructions carefully, and to live a life consistent with the Rabbi’s.
That “devotion” is more than a specific activity but a heart attitude that expresses itself in following the devout life of our Savior, exemplified through disciples like Paul.
Biblical discipleship does not exist in a relational vacuum. Behind every leader there are followers. Paul’s aim was not to be get Timothy to copy him but specifically the Christ in Paul who was being lived out through Paul. Timothy was to be “covered in the dust of his rabbi…”. Paul was to reproduce Christ’s life in him to Timothy.
EXPRESSION 2: ENDURING (2 Timothy 3:12-15)
The second component of a devoted heart expressed in this text is the willingness to endure suffering.
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted… (2 Timothy 3:12)
It is possible to find comfort and even courage in being advised by someone who has already walked the road we find ourselves traveling. The recovering alcoholic finds great solace in the advice of someone who has conquered the addiction and enjoyed years of sobriety. Paul has already told Timothy to endure the trials coming his way. Paul suffered far more than he lists here; he detailed them elsewhere. These are the first of the persecutions of Paul described in the Book of Acts, and all of them happened on his first visits to those locations, before Timothy joined him (Acts 16). It is interesting that he carefully selects his experiences here for the persecutions listed all occurred in Timothy’s native region.
Even in this abbreviated version of his sufferings, we see that Paul had endured most of the hardships of the Christian faith that can be visited on one person. His recorded sufferings are only matched and exceeded by the Lord’s own.
Being a devoted follower of Christ where God had placed him would be a challenge for Timothy. His devotion would be expressed through endurance. The same is true for us. It’s not easy to be a Christ-follower today. We are unlikely to get beaten, but we are likely to get ridiculed. It’s time to wake up to the fact that devotion will result in persecution. It’s time to stop talking up the world and embrace reality.
Food for Thought
In whose dust are you covered? Who are you following, or who have you followed after?
Would they say your followâ€ship has been faithful, keeping to their teaching and leadership?