October 2, 2022
My jewelry box lid disintegrated after 20 plus years. I’ve put jewelry in this old Bath and Body Works holiday gift container for what feels like eons and Evy commented, it’s hard to find a big box with a lid. I’m on the lookout for another large container, I don’t need a vault or lock and key. I don’t need security like the Crown Jewels or lasers like the movie with Catherine Zeta Jones and Sean Connery, Entrapment. I know where my treasure truly lies and it’s not in a disintegrating jewelry box. What do you treasure? What do you hold dear?
Our text today comes from 2 Timothy. It’s the last letter Paul wrote before he died. In it he’s imparting wisdom to his spiritual son Timothy. Words that he not only treasures, but he takes to heart and enacts in his life and imparts to his fellow followers of Jesus.
2 Timothy 1:6-14 (NRSV)
6 For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; 7 for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.
8 Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, 12 and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. 13 Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.
Paul’s basically telling Timothy to do three things: Remember, Rekindle, and Guard.
Remember what you’ve learned, who you are and most importantly whose you are. In verse 3 Paul writes, “I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.” And in verse 5 he writes, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.” Paul’s remembering Timothy in his prayers and he’s commending Timothy for his authentic faith that he learned from his grandmother and mother. He was a witness to their knowledge and love of God and love of Jesus. It was obviously part of his upbringing. It was as natural as sitting down for breakfast or going to bed at night and because it was so natural it became in integral part of Timothy’s life and his own faith journey. Paul is encouraging him to remember that.
And NOT to remember his own limitations. In 1 Corinthians 16:10 Paul writes, “If Timothy comes, see that he has nothing to fear among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord just as I am.” Who knows if he was an introvert or if he was nervous in front of a crowd. The text doesn’t say. And in his first letter to Timothy, Paul writes, “No longer drink only water, but take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” Not only was he afraid, he had “frequent ailments.” But Paul saw himself in young Timothy saying in Philippians 2:19-22, “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I, too, may be consoled by news of you. I have no one so like myself who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. All of them are seeking their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But Timothy’s worth you know, how like a son with a father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.” This a father, imparting his final wisdom to his son. Timothy picked up from his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother Lois, and we reaffirmed in getting and up close view of Paul’s life this critical piece of wisdom from Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Remember to draw from the deep well that is Jesus and he will give you all the strength you need to go through any challenge you face. Remember every time God has brought you through something. Remember the times God has shown up. Remember the times God has made a way, when there seemed to be no way through or around or underground. Remember God’s rainbows. Remember Jesus, “Peace be still,” calming the wind and the waves. Remember the Holy Spirit’s turning our mere utterings into prayers. Remember.
The first place we guard that treasure is within ourselves. The passage calls us to “rekindle the gift of God that is within you.”
The image behind the term, “rekindle” is fanning something into flame. The embers are our remembrances of what God has done in our lives and all of God’s people through time. At some of their meetings, Boy Scouts have a contest on building a fire. Teams of scouts will be stationed at a campfire with a frame over the fire. The frame holds a pot of water. The goal is to start a fire, then build the fire up to the point that the water boils over the sides of the pot. The team that causes the water to spill over the side first wins. The scouts fan with whatever they find handy as fast and furiously as they can. The flames of the fire leap up, the water in the pot begins to stir until finally a bubble leaks to the top. The water rolls with more energy until at last some of it splashes over the side. That’s fanning into flame! Rekindling the fire within!
Has the world doused your fire? Stress, work, fatigue, disappointment, and heartbreak can all cause our flame to die down. We poke around in the embers, but don’t find much spark. Prayer, worship, and opening ourselves to the Holy Spirit can give us that energy; it can give us that spark. Remembering goes with Rekindling. Paul reminds Timothy of the essence of his faith so that he can rekindle that faith in Timothy. Sort of like fanning the embers of a fire so it won’t go out.
Our words can fan the flame or rekindle the embers of faith or dump a whole bucket of cold water and douse it. Words are powerful. They can be used to encourage and build up or they can bring ruin and tear down. Remember and rekindle your own faith so you can rekindle the faith of those around you in mighty ways. Rekindle.
And finally, Paul says we are to Guard the Good Treasure. What you have is a treasure. Regard it as a good treasure. A faith that is hard won and to be cherished. Paul said something similar 1 Timothy 6:20, “Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you.” We do have to guard the faith, guard it and nurture it so it doesn’t wither and die. Guard it so it gets easily shared. And guard against letting it be hidden away someplace so it never has an opportunity to bloom.
An army officer, his wife, and two children were living in a hotel while he was on a temporary military assignment. One day, a guest in the hotel saw one of the little girls playing house in the lobby. She was saddened for the little girl and said, I’m so sorry that you don’t have a home. The little girl responded quickly, oh we have a home, we don’t have a house to put it in.
That is the good treasure. Sharing freely and carrying our homes with us wherever we go. Protecting the good treasure of what has been given to us through the death of Jesus Christ – forgiveness of sins and resurrection hope that is life everlasting. Holding on to what is dear to us and treasuring it despite our address or current circumstances.
The famous missionary Robert Moffat returned to Scotland to recruit helpers to the mission field after years of faithful service in South Africa. When he arrived at the church he was to speak at one cold, wintry night he was dismayed that only a small group had come out to hear him. What bothered him even more was that the only people in attendance were women, and although he was grateful for their interest he had hoped to challenge men.
He had chosen for his text, “Unto you, O men I call” from Proverbs 8:4. He hardly noticed that there was a young boy present who was pumping the bellows for the organ that night. Moffat was so frustrated as he gave the message that night, hardly noticing that the boy was listening. When the call was given, nobody responded since they were all women and he was asking for men.
However, the young boy was deeply moved by the challenge Moffat had given. He was one of five children in a poor family that resided in two small rooms. His parents were poor in earthly wealth but rich in spirit and they inspired their son to devote his life to serving God and his fellow man. As a result of Moffat’s sermon, he promised God he would follow in the footsteps of the missionary from South Africa. He began working in the cotton mills at age 10 and continued there for many years, eventually earning enough money to put himself through college, where he studied medicine and theology.
When this boy grew up, he went and ministered to the unreached tribes of Africa. His name: David Livingstone. Moffat never ceased to wonder that his appeal, which he had intended for men, had stirred a young boy.
He spent most of his adult life exploring Africa, bringing “modern” medicine and God’s Word to its remotest regions. He was the first person to cross the continent from east to west and the first white man to see Victoria Falls. He planted missions, spread the gospel and endured incredible hardships. In doing so, it is said that he added a million square miles to what was then considered the known world — and hundreds, maybe thousands, of souls to the heavenly rolls.
He was showered with accolades for his work. But the thing about David Livingstone’s life that most touches my heart is the way he died. Early on the morning of May 1, 1873, he was found dead, kneeling beside his bed. While doing God’s will, praying alone in a remote African hut, he was taken up to his heavenly home. He was able to guard that good treasure until he joined the communion of saints. Guard.
Moffat was Livingstone’s Paul and Livingstone was his Timothy. We carry the batons of those who have long run the race of faith with perseverance and faithfulness. Paul was passing the baton to Timothy and he indeed is passing it to us. We have to remember, rekindle and guard the good treasure entrusted to each of us by the overflowing grace, love and mercy of Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. If we do that, we can pass the baton to our sons and daughters with wisdom, strength and example as we finish our race!