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What Does it Mean to be Spiritually Strong?

“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. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” (2 Timothy 1:12-14)


Have you ever struggled with the lack or absence of spiritual strength? Perhaps it was in the midst of much uncertainty, distress, and even pressing dangers. When under such situations, a genuine and strong spiritual life is not only an indicator of how well we can overcome such circumstances, but also an indicator of how surely we will persevere through time and trial. Not that our spiritual strength is in and of ourselves, but that our spiritual strength is in and of God’s grace alone. For it is only when we learn to fully depend on grace that we truly build spiritual strength for the lifelong journey in which we are called to persevere.


Timothy was in a troubled circumstance when he was left to minister in Ephesus. The church under his care was being attacked by false doctrines and was falling into sinful conduct. On top of that, he was being questioned and challenged as a minister because of his young age. The surrounding circumstances were no different. Believers were facing life-threatening risks because of intense persecution. His own father in the faith, the Apostle Paul, was awaiting his execution in a Roman prison. Timothy knew that by way of his relationship to Paul, his own life was at stake. So Timothy was facing battles left and right and was struggling over his inadequacy to continue Paul’s ministry. Alarmed by Timothy shrinking in fear and timidity, Paul writes 2 Timothy, a letter to his spiritual son, that Timothy might be strengthened to persevere by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.


Paul encourages Timothy not just through the words of his letter, but by the example of his life. Timothy saw for himself the life and testimony of his dear faith father. He knew of how Paul was graciously called by God into saving faith and how Paul was powerfully appointed by God for divine ministry. He bore witness to Paul’s difficult yet rewarding spiritual journey and commission. And so it was only fitting that Paul would exhort Timothy to be strengthened by grace by illustrating it through Paul’s own life and Paul’s own troubled circumstances.


Paul tells Timothy that even though he suffers, he is not ashamed because he knows whom he believes in (2 Timothy 1:12). Paul’s choice of words here is interesting because in saying that he knew whom he believed in, his words implied a personal knowledge and experience of whom he believed in. Who was this person that Paul personally knew and experienced, such that he would have a very strong faith in this person? It was the Lord Himself. Paul’s firsthand knowledge and experience of God shaped the personal intimacy that he had with God. And it was because of this closeness that he had with God that Paul was given a solid conviction of God’s ability to guard him until the last Day.


Paul continues in this passage by saying, “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” (2 Timothy 1:12). Paul was strongly persuaded and surely confident that God was and is able to keep his life. In knowing and experiencing God - even through shipwrecks, imprisonments, and persecutions - Paul was utterly convinced of God’s secure hold over his life and ministry. He had seen how God had displayed His keeping power in the past and he was sure of God’s continued keeping power in the present and the future, until that Day when the Lord would award to him the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8).


Paul then charges Timothy, saying, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” Being assured that a life entrusted to God is forever guarded and kept, Paul then tells Timothy to live by the gospel and guard the gospel. By fully entrusting his life to God, he could boldly live out and guard the gospel that was entrusted to him. Here, Paul tells Timothy that the only way he could faithfully persevere in both faith and ministry was through a fully surrendered life to God.


Dear believer, are you struggling with a lack or absence of spiritual strength? At times we can wrongly think that our spiritual strength is in and of ourselves. How frustrating that would be if our spiritual strength was only a matter of our doing, for we would find ourselves surely falling short and always missing the mark. Our spiritual strength is never something we independently produce or develop. There is much need to be constantly reminded that building spiritual strength requires utterly depending on grace. It is not about relying on our willpower and effort, but trusting in God’s sufficient grace and transforming power. So if we are to be spiritually strengthened, our lives are to be fully surrendered to God. There is just no other way.


Now, having been promised that God will preserve you till the end, fully entrust your life to our faithful God, for He will never fail you (1 Peter 4:19).





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