Thursday of Pentecost 17 – II Timothy 1:1-14

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,

To Timothy, my beloved child:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

Dick was a friend of mine. I am glad to say that. I met him shortly after he took on a huge project. A local institution was failing, and he had come to serve as its administrator of last resort. Honestly, the situation was grim. The finances were ruinous, the governing body was at times toxic, and there were strong personalities with conflicting ideas about what should happen with this entity. I saw three things in Dick that I really admire. Dick really was fearless. He jumped in without a second thought. I knew his position was tenuous at best, but you would never have known it to watch him in action.

Compounding his problems, a staff member was going through a crisis. This was a well-liked man upon whose work the entity had often depended. The stress of the prior years had led him to make some poor decisions and now it was public and somewhat scandalous. But Dick did not see the damage to the institution in this, he saw the person. He gently and capably counselled this young man into another career where life could be lived healthily. Dick loved his people. That was not a thing he simply said, but a love he put into action.

Finally, I remember a particularly difficult meeting. A member of the community hurled vicious accusations at him. It was personal and ugly. I was hurt listening to this being leveled at someone else. I could not imagine what it was like to be in Dick’s shoes, bearing all this. I also had come to know him by this point. It was why I was at the meeting. I knew that there had been difficulties with this man before. I knew that Dick struggled with just how to respond. I was amazed at how Dick professionally and firmly handled that situation. The venom was not met with rancor or accusations in kind, but with appropriate and fruitful responses.

Paul said that the spirit which was poured out on is not a spirit of fear but a spirit of love and self-control. He called Timothy to service in that same spirit. He called my friend Dick to service as well. He is calling you not to fear or to all the behaviors which flow out of fear, but to love and self-control. Dick was considerably older than I was when all this happened. I hope and pray that I can grow into that same spirit and by the grace of Jesus, I believe He is leading me in that direction.

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