Break Up That Cement
Some of God’s people who congratulate themselves on being firmly planted in the faith merely have their spiritual feet stuck in concrete. They are trapped in the rapidly drying cement of do-nothingness,” a compound of spiritual “wash water” and the sand of timidity. Many saints have been immobilized in do-nothingness for so long that it would take a sledgehammer to break them free.
We modern Christians are not the first believers to get caught in the cement of do-nothingness. Timothy, Paul’s young disciple, also found his feet stuck fast.
At times Saint Timothy acted more like Saint Timidity. He had heard God’s word. He had received God’s call. He had responded in faith. Yet despite his haste to serve, it seems that Timothy was going nowhere.
Timothy’s cement was still wet, but it was hardening rapidly and he needed to be pulled up and out of its grip. The Apostle Paul’s second epistle to Timothy served as a tug to get him out and moving again.
Paul could be quite blunt in proclaiming God’s truths. He was curtly direct more often than he was tactfully polite. His pointed, “tell-it-like-it-is” declarations often made him “a prod from God.” Yet at times Paul also had a more gentle manner. Sometimes the prod was more like a gentle nudge. We see this in his letters to young Timothy.
Perhaps Paul used a more gentle manner with Timothy because he knew that Timothy needed to be cheered and encouraged on his path of service. He was very affirmative and began with the reminder that he, Paul, an apostle and servant of God, was praying constantly for Timothy, so that with God’s help his young friend could transcend his besetting problems.
In 2 Timothy 1:2-4 Paul avows his love and concern. The affirmation continues in the fifth verse as he writes, “…I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you.…” Paul’s words are an acknowledgment of Timothy’s spiritual heritage and the conviction that he will carry on that legacy.
Now in verse 6 comes Paul’s gentle prod—the word “therefore.” (In Scripture “therefore” is always a stop-look-and-listen word. We were taught in Bible college that to understand a given text we must read all around every “therefore” to find out what it was there for. Despite—or maybe because of—the poor grammar, that adage made the principle unforgettable: Everything right before a “therefore” is a build-up to emphasize what follows.)
What follows the “therefore” in 2 Timothy 1:6 is Paul’s admonition that Timothy stir up the gift of God that is in him through the laying on of hands. We cannot know for certain whether the laying on of hands was a formal ordination or merely a common Hebrew blessing. In any case, we see Paul urging Timothy onward—to stir up the hardening “cement” of immobility with his God-given aptitudes so he could get on with the work of the Lord.
Then comes the standout assertion in verse 7: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” The next “therefore” that follows this dynamic statement is, “…do not be ashamed of the story of our Lord, nor of me.”
From Paul’s words, we might well picture Timothy as a perplexed young believer, devoid of initiative, unable to say what he needed to say, unable to serve the way he needed to serve, unable to put himself in motion for God. Paul not only fingered Timothy’s problem, but provided the solution. He admonished, “God has not given us a spirit of fear.”
Timothy needed Paul’s gentle prod to shed his timidity and begin to serve the Lord. Though locked away in prison, Paul sent Timothy two mentoring letters. Whereas the nature of Paul’s first letter was instructive and informative, his second letter was a reminder: You know how to serve God. Now go and do it!
Paul’s insight into Timothy’s problem is timeless. Every believer in every age is vulnerable to this kind of inertia. A spirit of fear or timidity often prevents us from doing our best for God. Our fear of failure or adverse reaction often causes us to procrastinate from doing what we know we ought to do for Him. Procrastination increases our anxiety, anxiety causes paralysis and we end up doing nothing.
Timothy needed to be reminded—and so do we—that timidity and fears do not come about because we serve a cruel master who will punish us if we fail Him. On the contrary, God is a loving, forgiving and affirming heavenly Father. That knowledge should encourage us that we cannot fail in our wholehearted service to God because He guarantees the ultimate success of our endeavors on His behalf.
According to Paul, we need not fear failure. God has already given us the power to succeed. Nor should we fear lack of motivation. God has already given us the love that moves us to serve Him. Nor should we fear that our thoughts to serve Him are inappropriate. God has already implanted in us the gift of service. Indeed, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 tells us that God has given gifts to every believer.
Paul’s admonition that Timothy stir up his gift is applicable today. Lay people as well as clergy need that kind of mobilization. As we stir God’s gifts to the surface He will enable us to serve Him in the capacity to which He calls us.
Whatever our service, we must all follow the same path. Our minds must know God’s will, our hearts must respond to obey and our feet must propel us forward. If the cement of timidity is beginning to harden around our feet, we must break free.
As we stir up our God-given gifts, and with them our desire to serve Him, we will undoubtedly meet with resistance. As Paul’s message was often unpopular, we can expect that our best and most loving efforts will often encounter some of the same negative reaction. Paul’s commitment to preach the gospel put him out of step with the world of unbelievers. Commitment and desire to serve God still produce the same effect today. In our commitment to Yeshua we often find ourselves marching to the beat of a different drum, headed away from the crowd, without society’s approval or affirmation.
As in Paul’s day, the position that there is no salvation in any name but Jesus is not popular. Still, it is true. We must free our feet from the cement of immobility, walk with God, march to His rhythm and in His direction. And whenever we tell His truths with conviction, He is there with us, cheering us on to victory.
As we proclaim the goodness and mercy of God in Christ, we need not worry that some may not believe what we say. We need not fear that we will be disliked. Though some may reject us, we will certainly be received by God.
We should not fear being ridiculed, spurned or even made to suffer for the gospel. Paul endured all those things, yet his experience with God was so vivid and so vital that he could declare, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
To be victorious in serving God, we must believe in the victory He has already provided. We must move forward, confident of His providential protection, remembering that He has equipped us and has made us capable of everything He has called us to do. We must move forward in the knowledge that He has already provided us with the power to do it right.
Jesus told His disciples, “…you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem…Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). That word “power” not only means strength. It means authority. God has given us believers the authority to announce His message of salvation to a lost world. His love, shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, motivates us to move ahead in self-discipline to proclaim it.
Like Timothy, all of us believers today need an occasional gentle prod as a loving reminder of our duty to God. So, child of God, what are you waiting for? A gentle prod is better than a sledgehammer.
Don’t be a Saint Timidity. Be a Saint Timothy! Stir up the gift God has given you. If you are standing in cement, now is the time to break out of it. Get up and go. Go for God. Go with God!