Thursday, January 26, 2023

A Word to Students

As a teacher, these are two of my favorite verses in the entire New Testament (2 Tim. 2:1-2):

As for you, my son, be strong through the grace that is ours in union with Christ Jesus. Take the teachings that you heard me proclaim in the presence of many witnesses, and entrust them to reliable people, who will be able to teach others also.

One of the greatest fears a teacher can have is to invest in students who will eventually not follow through. Paul knew such people. They are named in chapter 4 of this letter. Some of them even went out of their way to make Paul's life miserable. So if you ever become a teacher, make sure to look out for people who do not have these negative qualities. Instead, look for reliable people who will follow your instruction and then pass it on to others reliably. Paul, of course, is using a racing metaphor. He describes the gospel work as a long-distance race. Jesus has started the race and has passed the baton on to Paul. He, in turn, wants to pass it on to Timothy, who will continue the race because Paul has found him to be reliable.

And what exactly is the primary characteristic of a reliable person? Paul is looking for those who will stand firm in the grace of Jesus Christ. Paul, I believe, could be asking you and me, "Are you standing in the grace of Jesus Christ? Is that a primary quality of your life?" The questions are necessary because we tend to stand on all sorts of other things like our eloquence or our education or our social connections or our brilliance. Student, please hear me: You cannot stand on any of those things. Standing in the grace of Jesus Christ means that your worth as a Christian, as a gospel person, depends not on your ability or knowledge or skills or any other resource but purely on the resources that Jesus Christ provides. Keep this verse in mind always (Col. 1:29):

I work hard and struggle with all of Christ's energy that so powerfully works in me.

The abundance is in God's grace, which is freely given and which is freely received. Do not grovel in despair over your inadequacies, but move on to the daily blessedness of all-sufficient grace!