II Timothy 4 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
I and II Timothy are such great letters. Paul’s letter to young Timothy is both theologically precise and spiritually warm and tender. Paul combines theological depth with depth of pathos for others. Since you have heard many sermons on verses 1-8 and will likely hear many more, I would like to think about verses 9-22.
This is such a great picture of who Paul is because of God’s grace. Yet, we are also reminded Paul was a person like us. First, Paul appears to be lonely. Do your best to come to me soon v. 9. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you v. 11. When you come. . . . v. 13. Do your best to come before winter v. 21.
Paul was lonely. He could admit that he needed people. He asked for help.
“As Henry David Thoreau put it more than 170 years ago in his classic book, Walden, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” And a recent study by YouGov backs him up. In that study, 44% of males 18 and over said they feel lonely all the time — far higher than the percentage of women who gave the same answer. And that doesn’t even take into account men’s well-documented habit of underreporting anything that might make us feel — or give someone else the impression that we might be — weak or defective. In the same study, men were 50% more likely than women (18% vs. 12%) to say they don’t have any close friends, and 33% more likely (32% vs. 24%) to say they don’t have a best friend. In fact, many men feel emotionally closer to their dogs than to other humans. In a recent study by psychologist Chrisopher Blazina and researcher Lori Kogan, 62% of male dog owners said that their relationship with their dog is “almost always” secure, while only 10% said the same about the relationship with the closest human in their life.” https://triblive.com/news/health-now/the-epidemic-and-consequences-of-male-loneliness/
Paul is full of grace and forgiveness. He holds no grudges and harbors no bitterness. Who does he request to visit him? Mark. The same Mark Paul refused to go on another mission trip with in Acts 15:37-38. In v. 16, no one supported Paul. No one supported the great Apostle Paul. Not one person “came to stand by me, but all deserted me.” Then he adds, “May it not be charged against them!”
It appears Paul is cold. “Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas” and “do your best to come before winter” vs. 13, 21. He might be bored. Bring “. . . the books, and above all the parchments.” Can you imagine living in a cold, dark, maybe wet cell? Paul needed everything he could get and he needed people. The greatest theologian and maybe the greatest Christian needed people. And so do you. We need one another.
Thomas Jefferson said, “I cannot live without books” a quote I have on a coffe cup. Paul needed intellectual stimulation. But he needed the Bible or “the parchments.” He is still learning, so digging into God’s Word. He was not going to sit around in jail.
He is deeply immersed in theology and has one foot in heaven, as it were. But he is naming people and is instructing to beware of some vs. 10, 14-15; to care for others: Trophimus v. 20; telling the church where the other workers are vs. 10, 11, 12, 20, and sends greeting to others vs. 19, 21.
We might need to be reminded we live out our spiritual lives in and through bodies. We need to eat healthy food and not too much of it. We need to rest our bodies and our minds. We need people. We need their encouragement. We need their love and we need to love them. We need people.
We also need to remember prisoners who are faithful to Christ. And I would include persecuted Christians. Just keep praying for believers who need our prayers.
Finally, notice the people in your lives. How many people care for you or how many people do you care for? Take time to tell them how much they mean to you. Reflect on how good God has been to you through people. Did someone help you find your spouse? Who has helped your child, children, grandchildren? Who taught/teaches you? Who encourages you? Who always listens to you?
I can only imagine how Mark must have felt when Timothy said something like this, “Mark, Paul asked that you come with me when I visit him. Paul said you are very useful to me for ministry! Mark, God has brought you two so close after those moments back in Cyprus. What a delight to hear these words from our brother Paul!”
You may not think you matter much. You do matter to God and you matter to many other people. For you to say a kind word to someone means a lot. And many of you care for people that only a few of us know. But God knows and God sees your acts of love. What rewards await all who serve Him. And preaching a sermon is only one way to serve this gracious God. May we love in such a way as to bring honor to the Lord Jesus Christ.