#DailyDevotin It’s Pastor Appreciation/Encouragement Month
I PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST JESUS, by the will of God Who has promised life in Christ Jesus, to 2Timothy, my dear son — God the Father and Christ Jesus, our Lord, give you grace, mercy, and peace! 3I thank God — whom I, like my fathers, serve with a clear conscience — when I remember you in my prayers, as I never fail to do day and night. 4Remembering your tears, I long to see you and so to be filled with happiness. 5I recall how sincere your faith was; just as it lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice before you, so I am convinced it is in you too. 6That is why I remind you to stir into a flame God’s gift that is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7God didn’t give us a cowardly spirit but a Spirit of power and love and good judgment. 8So don’t be ashamed to tell about our Lord, and don’t be ashamed of me, His prisoner, but with God’s power to back us, join me in suffering for the good news.
Paul, like the apostles and prophets before him didn’t choose to be a minister of the Lord, the Lord chose him. So too, Timothy and those who serve in the office of the Holy Ministry do not choose to become ministers. They too, by the will of God, through the Church are called to serve in this office. On a human level they may aspire to the office, which is a noble thing to do, but those sent by Jesus, by the will of God, do so through the agency of the Church.
The thing such ministers of Christ do is proclaim what Paul does in his introduction, the promise of life in Christ Jesus. The Lord Jesus Christ promises to those who have faith in him life in this world and abundant life in the world to come. We were brought into this world dead in trespasses and sins. (Eph. 2:1) But when the Holy Spirit regenerates us by the promise of forgiveness of sins and baptism into Christ Jesus, eternal life is given to us. This life is in Christ and cannot be taken away from us. It is preserved for us at the right hand of God. We who have this life never die, Jesus promises as much in John eleven at Lazarus’ tomb.
Paul encourages Timothy as a young pastor to stir into a flame God’s gift that was given him when he laid hands on him. We can’t say exactly what that gift was. Paul refers to it in his first letter to Timothy, 1 Tim. 414“Don’t neglect the gift you have which was given you by prophecy when the spiritual leaders laid their hands on you.” In Romans, Paul list these gifts: speak God’s Word, serve, teach, encourage manage anything, help people in need. Peter in his first letters refers to the gift of speaking the oracles of God and service. It is quite likely Timothy had received such gifts as were necessary for his office as a pastor. Indeed, when any pastor is ordained or installed and hands are laid on him, the Lord bestows a gift to that pastor to do the office in that place. Yet, like Timothy, he needs the encouragement from his fellows and those he serves to fan it into a flame for the devil and the world do their best to snuff it out and make the pastor ineffectual. As this reading comes up on Pastor Appreciation month, you may want to consider how you can encourage your pastor in the things he does well and may even in the things he doesn’t do so well and pray for him as Paul did for Timothy.
Finally Paul reminds Timothy God has not given us a cowardly spirit but a spirit of power, of love, and of good judgment. For that reason he is called to be bold in his proclamation of Jesus. That power is the power of the Word of Christ. When the pastor or any Christian speaks God’s word, the Holy Spirit backs that word with his power. We know our Jesus is not ashamed to be call us to be his own. We should not be ashamed to call him our Lord and Savior. He is always with us, with the Spirit convicting the hearts of all who hear his word.
Gracious God and Father, be with all the ministers of the word and grant them courage, love and good judgment to preach Jesus. Also encourage to embolden us by your Spirit as we witness to others what Jesus has done for us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.