Tuesday, 27 May 2014

"IF WE ENDURE ..." Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings - 26/5/14

“IF WE ENDURE…” 

            We continue with our reading and reflections on the final epistle that Paul wrote: our chapter (2) begins with his encouragement to Timothy, “my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ …” He encourages him to “share in the suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” [v.3]
            Paul is “bound with chains as a criminal”, but says, “the word of God is not bound.” [v.9]  Today, with widespread translation and printing and websites, the word of God is more unbound than ever before, but how few are taking notice of it, especially in western countries which are overflowing with fleshly distractions and “the love of money.”  Paul and Timothy are examples to us; Paul declares, “I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” [v.10]
            Before his conversion Paul served himself, developing his ego as a Pharisee, blind to “the way” – the way of Christ; the human ambitions he then had, in a sense, “died” outside Damascus.  Among the early believers inspirational sayings began to circulate and Paul includes one in this letter, “The saying is trustworthy, for: ‘If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endurewe will also reign with him.” [v.11.12]  
            This saying remains totally true today, have we “died with” him?  Our thoughts immediately go to Paul’s words to the Colossians, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness … for on account of these the wrath of God is coming” [ch. 3 v.5,6]
            As the moral restraints on our world totally disintegrate, even more endurance will be required – and our endurance will need to include the confession of our faith in Christ for v.12 in today’s chapter concludes Paul’s quotation of the ‘saying’ – “if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful …” to his promise that “if we endure, we will also reign with him.”