Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Spiritual Formation Exercise from 2 Timothy 2

I am doing a slow and meditative read through 2 Timothy 2 this summer. Here Paul writes to his spiritual son, Timothy, to encourage him in his work as a minister of the Gospel. Paul's words are also an encouragement (and a challenge) to me. I find in this one chapter at least 25 different charges, each one critical to a fruitful and faithful ministry. Each day I am considering one or two of these exhortations and reflecting on how it applies to my life and ministry. Some give me a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, others are deeply convicting, and a few are simply raising my expectations or increasing my vision. Today I just want to share with you the list of Paul's insights and the questions that I am asking myself in response to what Paul wrote. In a later post I will share some of my personal realizations as I answered my own questions. I think I will make this an annual exercise as a means of evaluating my ministry. 

I'd like to invite any of you to go through the exercise as well. It’s best to just do one or two a day, but reflect deeply and sincerely on the verse and the questions that the verse stimulate. Feel free to add your own questions to the mix as you follow the leading of the Lord. If you do this exercise, will you please give me feedback on how it went? Tell me what was useful and what didn't work as well. I'd like to refine and use it in some future ministry endeavors, so your input would be greatly appreciated. 

Photo Credit: Jordan Egli Photography 

(Scripture is in bold, italicized purple and quoted from the ESV. My questions are in blue.)

2 Timothy 2 Reflection Exercise:
2:1 be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus
Paul wrote this to Timothy in light of other who had fallen away from the faith. How are you being strengthened by grace?

2:2 what you have heard...entrust to faithful men

What is the message that has been entrusted to you? With whom are you sharing that message?

2:3 Share in suffering

Suffering is a given. But it is also to be a shared experience. What hardships are you currently suffering? Who is sharing your burden? And whose burden of suffering are you helping to bear?

2:4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits 

What entanglements do you need to avoid?

2:5 An athlete...competes according to the rules

What rules do you need to follow? What rules are you tempted to break?

2:6 the hard-working farmer...ought to have the first share of the crops

Are you doing ministry in such a way that you are growing as much as those whom you are serving? Do you benefit from your work in healthy ways, or is your work simply a drain on your resources?

2:8 Remember Jesus Christ

How is your relationship with your First Love? How do you keep Jesus at the center of your life and ministry?

2:10 endure everything for the sake of the elect

What are you currently enduring for the sake of those who have not yet heard the Gospel? What are you unwilling to endure? Have you put a limit on how far you would go for the sake of those to whom Christ has called you?

2:14 charge them...not to quarrel about words

What words are you tempted to quarrel about? When and with whom are you most likely to become quarrelsome about words? How would God have you to respond?

2:15  Do your best to present yourself to God as one approveda worker who has no need to be ashamed

Are you doing your best? Does God approve of you and your work? Do you have any reason to be ashamed?

2:15 rightly handling the word of truth

Do you know the Word of God? Can you apply it rightly to life? Or are you careless, using verses to support your own agenda, irrespective of genuine meaning and intent?

2:16 avoid irreverent babble

What types of words come out of your mouth? Is your speech polluted by foul language or disrespectful attitudes? 

2:21 if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use

Are you clean? Do you keep short accounts when you wrong someone? Have you been taking regular spiritual "baths"? Is there any unconfessed sin in your life?

2:21 set apart as holy

Do you blend into the world, or are you different? Where are you tempted to "take part" rather than be "set apart"?

2:21 useful to the master

Whose kingdom are you building? Are you devoted to the service of the Master? Do you remember who's the boss? Are you learning, living, and leading in ways that God can use?

2:21 ready for every good work

Are you willing and able to do anything and everything the Lord asks? Is there any job that you consider to be beneath you?

2:22 flee youthful passions

What are your immature wants/desires? What steals your gaze from Jesus? How can you flee from those things?

2:22 pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace...

What are you doing to seek hard after righteousness? Do you live a life that is above reproach? How do you build and strengthen your faith? Do you leave too much to chance? What are you doing to act in love towards those around you? Are you intentional about this? Are you person who seeks peace? Where are you called to be a peacemaker?

2:22 ...along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart

The Christian life is a team sport. How are you building and living in community with others?

2:23  Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies

What foolish controversies tempt you? What would it look like to ignore them? Why do you feel drawn to participate in such controversies?

2:24 the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome

The Christian church today is marked by quarrels. We are known by our disputes. How are you contributing to this reputation? What arguments do you actually take delight in?  What fights do you pick? When must you be right?

2:24 be...kind to everyone

Are you kind? To whom do you find it difficult to be kind?

2:24 able to teach

What are your competencies? Are you equipped to pass them on to others?

2:24 patiently enduring evil

How do you respond when you have been wronged? 

2:25 correcting his opponents with gentleness

Can you confront others gently? Or are you harsh? Will you sacrifice the Truth to avoid a needed confrontation?

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