“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11-12)
If you’ve ever felt like the expectations placed on you are too great, just consider Paul’s young friend Timothy. Here we find a young warrior left with little ammunition in a battlefield surrounded by enemies. Paul’s advice? Fight hard!
First of all, Timothy was facing fearsome adversaries on every side. All around him were men teaching false doctrines, promoting “godless myths” and sowing dissention and discord among the believers. Paul commissioned Timothy as the last line of defense between God’s people and these heretics and blasphemers.
As if the spiritual threats of false teachers and hypocrites weren’t enough, Timothy must also face the many worldly assaults that are so prevalent in Ephesus: lies, murder, gossip, slander, sexual immorality, and all manner of illicit and illegal activity. While combatting the lies and enticements of the heretics, Timothy was also supposed to stand firmly against the evils of his own secular society.
But that isn’t all. For the sake of the Gospel and the reputation of the Church, Paul also instructs Timothy to carefully monitor and regulate the worship practices of the church in Ephesus. He was to guide the lives of God’s people there, instructing everyone from the laity to the overseers and deacons on how to live and being accountable for their behavior and actions.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed yet? Well, too bad. Because we haven’t even mentioned the fact that in the middle of this battle zone, Timothy will have to grapple with his greatest enemy all the while. The Devil will use Timothy’s own sinful nature against him, throwing every temptation at him to try and topple this young Church leader from the holy hill whereon he is making his desperate stand against the forces of darkness. And it won’t be enough to simply avoid falling into sin and shame; Timothy will have to be a model citizen, a pillar of righteousness and worthiness.
Oh yes, and one more thing: there are a host of other social issues that need tending to in your spare time – everything from the treatment of widows to the attitudes of the wealthy in your church and community. See to it that you take care of these problems for me, will you Tim? That’s a good boy.
I don’t know about you, but thinking about all this makes me want to sit down and weep while banging my head against the wall. How is one person expected to manage all this? Despite the fact that Timothy must have known he couldn’t do all this perfectly, and most certainly didn’t, it still must have been a tremendous amount of pressure – truly, one man against the world.
The scary part is that you and I are called to exactly the same desperate scenario as young Timothy. We are hard pressed on all sides by false teachings, worldly enticements, and our own sinful desires. The responsibilities laid upon God’s warriors can be staggering at times as we constantly encounter those in need of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional help. There are certainly many times when it feels like “me against the world,” and this couldn’t be more true. But as we look to the cross of Jesus Christ for strength to fight on and for forgiveness for our failures, we can be encouraged by this excellent promise from our Lord Himself and find peace in His Word:
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank and praise You for the triumph of Your Son over all the adversity I face in this life! Grant that I may face whatever struggles I am called to confront not only with strength and courage, but also with the joy that comes from knowing You are by my side as I serve You; though Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.