Paul encouraged his younger partner with these words, “You then, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2.1).
If you were to follow Paul’s words and counsel a friend on how to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,” what would you say?
Here are some thoughts that will help people grow in spiritual strength. My ideas follow Jesus’ message to his disciples.
(1) Our strength is in Christ Jesus. Jesus is the source of the grace and strength that he supplies.
I frequently quote John 15.5 because it is one of the most important verses in the Bible.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”
Everything we do to grow strong in Jesus’ grace stems from an abiding relationship with him.
(2) Since producing fruit is dependent on abiding with Jesus, a relationship with him is absolutely necessary.
Every relationship is based on conversation, talking and listening to each other.
The comedian, Lily Tomlin, got plenty of laughs when she said, “When you talk to God it is called prayer. When you say that God talked to you, it is called schizophrenia.”
While we laugh at Tomlin’s joke, she missed a profound truth. God wants to communicate with us.
If we provide space for God to speak, we will experience communion and communication with him.
God most often speaks to me through the Bible. My practice of reading the Bible and talking to God about what I have read often opens the door for God to share his thoughts with me.
Other people meet with God while they sit in silence or take a walk in nature.
Whatever method works for you, make sure you hear from God and talk to him. This is crucial to an abiding relationship.
(3) When God speaks, he expects us to take action.
God’s essential nature is known to be ethical and moral. God’s speech will always lead us to be like him.
Humans are given the privilege of partnering with God in his saving mission to the world. God speaks to us to communicate the role we are to play in his work.
Obedience or disobedience to God’s guidance is a good measure of faith. If we trust God’s goodness and leadership, we will follow his directions.
The story of the lame man in John 5 is an example of how a relationship with Jesus and obedience work together.
The man had been lame for 38 years when he met Jesus. In a matter of minutes, Jesus formed a relationship with him.
In the context of that relationship, Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk’ (John 5.8).
When the will of the man agreed with Jesus’ will, the power of God was released.
The “fruit” that was produced was this: “At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk” (John 5.9).
This is the way we become “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
— We live in an abiding relationship with Jesus by talking and listening to him.
— We exercise our faith by following the direction he give us.
God’s grace is not our private possession. We are to pass it on to others.
Pass It On!
Paul told Timothy to be strong in grace and to share it with others.
He wrote, “And what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well” (2 Timothy 2.2)
Paul rightly believed that the end of his life was near. Second Timothy was the last of his letters before he was executed by Nero in A.D. 67.
Paul’s concern was one that every generation faces. Will the next generation faithfully transmit the good news of God’s love to their peers?
The charge is for each generation to give to the next an example and a message that communicates the good news of God’s love for humans.
The “fruit” that Jesus spoke of in John 15 encompassed helping more people experience a transformational relationship with Jesus.
Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name” (John 15.16).
Jesus chose us to be his friend (see John 15.14-15). He appointed us us to help others experience his friendship.
People who live strong in the grace of Jesus Christ will live with Jesus and help others do the same.
Rudy Ross and I have produced a video on this passage. It can be found on the Bob Spradling channel.
Please email your prayers to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.