“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings…”
2 Timothy 3:10-11a
As if Paul saying “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1) isn’t convicting enough, here he points out specific areas Timothy has been imitating. It’s important to note that Paul has just finished describing how the world would progress in the last days while opposing the truth of God. Just take a moment and read the beginning of chapter 3. It’s a pretty accurate description of godless humanity living for itself. And it’s very relevant. It includes actions that are openly defiant of biblical morality, people who cannot be satisfied, abusers, the arrogant, and even those who have the appearance of godliness but will not surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit and actually live it out. People who are following the world and seeking it’s pleasures.
But Timothy, on the other hand, is following a different example. He is following the example that he has seen Paul. We can see clearly in scripture that Paul, Silas, and Timothy spent much time together. So, Timothy has seen the real Paul and he has seen Paul live opposite of the world in each of these areas.
So now I ask my self, “Would I want my kids, my disciples, to follow my example in each of these areas?”
My teaching? Sure. I try to always teach and counsel from the Word of God. I think I’m pretty confident here.
My conduct? Uh…well…um…eeee….I think I’m a pretty good example…most of the time. But as I say that, events and actions are running through my head that I wouldn’t want my kids imitating. Dang. That one’s out.
My aim in life? I feel pretty good about this one. In general, I do seek to Glorify God in all that I do. However, there are definitely times when my attitude is influenced by a more worldly focus and especially when it involves self-preservation or future security. Well, this one is suspect.
My faith? I think so. Again, I put the bible forward on this one. But am I teaching it faithfully? Do those around me, especially my family and friends, really know what I believe. Have I been faithful to disciple and pass on the Word of God. Man, I’ve got to remember that these things have to be modeled to be imitated.
My patience? Crap.
My love? Pass.
My steadfastness? At first glance, I think I endure pretty well. But the real definition of this one in it’s original language is “cheerful endurance.” Oh, you mean I have to be a good example? Ug.
My persecutions and sufferings? Living in America, I’m afraid I don’t have many Paul-like examples to pull from. My sufferings are in no way a comparison to Paul’s or even most of the rest of this world. But even at that, my reactions to trials and suffering leave little to be imitated.
Wow. So, I thought I was doing pretty good until Paul made this list. It’s a convicting read for sure. We will never be perfect at it, but it is a great aim. It’s great to make this a matter of prayer. We can add to it Paul’s encouragement to in his first letter to Timothy, chapter 4 verse 12,”…but set the believers and example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” That’s a pretty exhaustive list. And it’s God’s will for our lives in Christ.
So, how are you doing in these matters? Take some time and meditate on it. Let the Holy Spirit guide you and speak to you. And when you’re ready to admit your own failed efforts, you’ll be ready to join me, Paul, and all the other God seekers out there in surrendering to His power to do it through us. We’re all failures needing a perfect Savior to pick us up and show us how it’s done. Oh yeah, He’s the one we’re supposed to be imitating anyway.