Scripture Text: 2 Timothy 4:9 – 18
First apartment. Going to college. Marriage. These and other scenarios always elicit two basic responses: one moment the eagerness of newly found freedom and the next moment being freaked out. Among the last recorded words of the victorious apostle Paul, I discovered precious life lessons that have guided me during the first few years of my Christian walk. I hope a sincere study and application of these principles from God’s Word will have the same effect upon you as you mature into adulthood.
1. Choose your friends wisely (verses 9 – 12)
“Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.” (English Standard Version)
Notice Paul held Timothy, Luke and Mark dear to him in the last days of his life. If one doesn’t encourage you to do the right thing and does not respect your well-being, he or she is not a real friend. For better or worse, our associates affect our psychological, social, emotional and spiritual growth. One of the most important things we can do for ourselves is to develop and maintain close friendships with those who have their lives centered in Christ. Seek a Christian mentor. Be a mentor to another Christian. Find a church family and be involved faithfully! Their support will go a long way in maintaining your spiritual stamina.
2. Value the importance of books and education (verse 13)
“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.” (ESV)
You may have heard the true saying, “Leaders are readers.” Read one hour a day and turn TV time into learning time. Attend classes and training programs to increase your knowledge. Be teachable and commit yourself to lifelong learning.
At the same time, consistently build (and safeguard) your faith. Beware of too much emphasis of truth based on materialism and human philosophies. Particularly in many institutions of “higher” learning, one is expected to question and analyze everything. Through the guise of deception and “academic freedom”, ungodly ideologies and behaviors are being encouraged while anything moral, religious, Christian or Biblical is censored. My collegiate studies were heavily based in the social and liberal arts so I cultivated a passion for God’s Word and a love for Christ early. Be grounded in the right things. Read and study the Bible with the intent of doing what you learn because you love God.
3. Expect disappointments and troubles in life (verses 14 – 16)
“Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!” (ESV)
These three verses are self-explanatory. We are all human and the list of the “negative” or “bad” things that could happen to us are endless. But if you are a Christian, remember “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” and “if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name” (II Timothy 3:12 and I Peter 4:16).
4. Trust God fully and exclusively (v17, 18)
“But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (ESV)
Trust God’s promises. Obey His commands; fear (and respect) His threats. Rely on Him for your every need. Walk before God, walk after God, walk with God.