FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
CALLED TO A HOLY LIFE
June 6, 2012
Today’s reading: 2 Timothy 1:1-3,6-12
What kind of life does God want for us? “He saved us and called us to a holy life” (2 Tim 1:9a). God not only won for us our salvation through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, but He wants to restore us to our full stature as His children, made in His image and likeness, and thus living His life of holiness and purity.
Many Christians today recognize Jesus’ saving deed, and proclaim Him as Savior and Lord. But many Christians today have not heeded the call to holiness, to be set apart for God, to live a life on earth that prepares one to live a life eternally in heaven. Many Christians in fact cannot be distinguished from the non-Christians around them. The light of Christ through them does not shine forth. They are not the salt of the earth.
But we are called to a holy life, to live pure for Him. Now this is not easy. But it is God’s will for us, and so God will provide what is needed. God will act “according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 1:9c). This God has intended from all eternity, “before time began” (2 Tim 1:9d). Before we were born, before the universe was created, God already willed and intended for us to be holy. That is mind-boggling. If it is that important to God, it must be of the utmost importance to us as well.
Now holiness is a gift from God. It can only happen through His grace in our lives. We do not gain it “according to our works” (2 Tim 1:9b). We do not earn it or pay for it. His “grace is bestowed on us in Christ Jesus” and so it was won by Jesus on the cross who paid the price, and now freely bestowed on us. We just need to accept. This is very encouraging. Holiness is a very high ideal, and is impossible for us in our fallen humanity. But since God desires it for us, being in accordance with His eternal plan, and He provides it freely by His grace, then we can be holy.
Now holiness is a gift that we do not earn, but we also need to do our part. Aside from being open to the gift, we need to predispose ourselves to become worthy recipients of the gift. God does not force His gift on an unwilling or undeserving person.
In this passage, Paul exhorts Timothy to fulfill his mission. We can apply what Paul instructs to ways by which one can more readily receive God’s gift.
First, we must passionately desire the gift. We must “stir into flame the gift of God that you have” (2 Tim 1:6). We must see God’s intent, and realize to what great lengths God went, including sacrificing His very own Son, in order for us to be saved and to live a life according to His design. We must then pursue holiness. We must deliberately and persistently desire to live pure.
Second, we must boldly strive for the gift. “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim 1:7). We must not allow fears or doubts to deter us. We must not allow the devil to paralyze us because of our unworthiness. God wants this life for us, and so we must want it too. We trust that God will provide what we need. We look to the power of God’s Holy Spirit, who enables us to love and to practice self-control.
Third, we must not be ashamed of the gift. “So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord” (2 Tim 1:8a). The world is hostile to those who live the gospel. The young person who preserves his/her virginity is subject to ridicule. The one who tries to live a holy life is subject to contempt. But we are precisely called not only to live pure, but to witness to God’s grace with our pure lives. We testify to Christ and the beauty of God’s call.
Fourth, we must endure to preserve the gift. We are to “bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” (2 Tim 1:8b). There will be challenges. There will be setbacks. There will be oppression and persecution. These are part of the package that comes with the gift. We recognize this reality, and resolve to bear our share of hardship. And we know that we can endure through the strength that comes from God.
Fifth, even as we suffer, we are to fully trust in God. “On this account I am suffering these things; but I am not ashamed, for I know him in whom I have believed and am confident that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.” (2 Tim 1:12). Suffering for the cause of Christ is redemptive. It is purifying. It draws us closer to God and deeper in our relationship with Him. As such, suffering is also a gift. This was the very way of Jesus. We are privileged to walk in his way.
Holiness is “the will of God for the promise of life in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 1:1) for all of us. A life of holiness is the key to receiving “grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (2 Tim 1:2).
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