Game day

I can’t remember how long it’s been since I last used a football analogy, but in my mind, one can never use them too often.

This weekend, I made a trip out to go see two of my nephews play football. As a part of their fundraising (and to clear out room in storage), the team is selling off old jerseys. Since I didn’t yet have any team apparel, I snagged one of these game-worn shirts. Immediately after putting it on, I noticed some pretty major differences between it and the other jerseys I own. While my fan jerseys are all pretty awesome, they’d be useless if I ever actually wanted to play the game of football. Unlike a game jersey, they have little stretch and absolutely no room for protective padding. It got me thinking about how we, as Christians, wear different shirts and expect results that we are unprepared for.

Now, I can go to Saskatchewan, wear my green and white jersey with a name and number on the back and tell everyone that I play for the Roughriders. But no one is going to believe me. I’m just a fan. It’s obvious. Or I can step out onto the field in my new gold and black jersey and claim I’m a Bear, but it’s quite plain that I’m not. This is how a lot of Christians are. They get saved and become fans of the faith. It’s alright. They follow the rest of the team and wear the team shirt when it suits them, but they’re not team players. They aren’t equipped.

Then we have the armchair quarterbacks. You know, those people who wear the game jersey ballooning out across their shoulders. There’s room for equipment, but it’s not there. They know the playbook and the rulebook and are more than willing to tell everyone else how to play the game, but are again, ill equipped to actually get in there and do it themselves.

We also have those like my nephew, with both the playbook and rulebook memorized, game jersey on—filled out with a full set of pads, early to every practice, in every play, learning every position. This is how we are all supposed to be—eager to get on the field at every opportunity. And, if we’re not playing, we should be coaching—showing those with less experienced how to get things done.

Paul was Timothy’s coach. Paul had been in the game for a while and was raising up the next team to take his place on the so-called field of faith.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and make us realize what is wrong in our in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)

The Word of God contains everything we need to get out there and do what He’s called us to do. And let’s set the record straight—God has not called any of us simply to be fans or armchair quarterbacks. We’ve all be drafted to the team and are expected to do everything we can to help the team grow, become stronger, and win.

Church, get ready. It’s game day.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 25-26. 2 Timothy 3

Never be ashamed

If you’re afraid of the dark, if you’ve encountered a scary situation, if you can’t seem to put your mind at ease, 2 Timothy 1:7 may have been a verse that came to mind or one that someone has given to you. I don’t want to burst your bubble—because we shouldn’t be fearful when God is on our side—but in context, that verse really doesn’t have much to do with being afraid and has more to do with being bold.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

That’s a great verse and I know it’s helped many get through some pretty intense situations, but take a look at what Paul tells Timothy next.

So you must never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.

2 Timothy 1:8 (NLT)

That doesn’t sound much like Timothy was struggling with night terrors or paranoia. It sounds as though Timothy was having trouble finding his voice when it came to sharing the Gospel.

I don’t want to make light of those who genuinely deal with fear. It’s something we all deal with at times in our lives, but I want to be sure that we really understand what these verses are talking about.

Preceding these passages, Paul reminds Timothy to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave him. Then he tells him that God hasn’t given him a spirit of fear.

God has given all of us—yes all—spiritual gifts. And sometimes it can be difficult to step out in these gifts. What if I’m wrong? What if I’ve missed God? What if someone makes fun of me? What if people don’t understand? There is nothing wrong with having these questions. The error comes when we allow them to control when and how we use the gifts God has given us. This is why Paul tells Timothy not to fear. He says, I am not ashamed, because I know Jesus, the One in whom I have believed (NCV).

There is a boldness that comes when we know Christ, I mean really know Christ. He gives us the power, love, and self-discipline to step out in the gifts that he has given to us. And then it is up to us to use, to refine, and to protect those gifts.

Protect the truth that you were given; protect it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

2 Timothy 1:14 (NCV)

The more you use your gift—whatever that gift may be—the more confident you will become in it. Never be ashamed to use what God has given you, but be confident in the One who gave it to you.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 20-22, 2 Timothy 1

Living knowledge

[God] saves men because He loves them individually, and desires to make them blessed; but He also saves them because He desires that through them other shall be brought into the living knowledge of His love. It is most especially true about great religious teachers and guides.

MacLaren’s Expositions

In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he tells his son in the faith to stop letting people waste time in endless speculation. Many in the church had begun to spend more time in discussion over fruitless facts rather than actually bearing fruit. They lost sight of the purpose of their salvation.

Our salvation is not only for our own personal good, but for the good of everyone. As stated in the quote above, God saves us because He loves us, but He also saves us so that we can share His love and be brought into the living knowledge of it.

Facts are great. I love facts. I love statistics. I like knowing things. But those things bear no fruit. Facts have no life to them. This is why Paul directed Timothy to keep the church from spending all their time arguing over these things. While genealogies may be important to an extent, when compared to eternity, it’s a bit of a waste of time. Because God wants to save everyone—not just a specific few.

This is a true saying, and everyone should believe it. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—and I was the worst of them all. But that is why God had mercy on me, so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.

1 Timothy 1:15-16 (NLT)

The greater the fall, the greater the story of salvation. (Please don’t take this as an invitation to go on a sinning spree just so you can say you’ve been saved from all of that.) If Paul, a man who spent his life pursuing and killing Christians, could be saved, we can all be saved. And, if that same man can spread the Gospel, we can all spread the Gospel. This is the point he was making.

In the Kingdom of God, your earthy pedigree means nothing. The very same grace saves us all. Let’s not lose sight of that fact and let us not lose sight of the fact that we are saved so that others might be saved.

The purpose of my instruction is that all Christians there would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and sincere faith.

1 Timothy 1:5 (NLT)

Love is what we should be filled with, not fruitless arguments. Look for that living knowledge of God, that which edifies the soul and strengthens the spirit. Those are the thoughts that should be consuming us.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 5-6, 1 Timothy 1