"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well." (2 Timothy 1:1-5)An apostle is an ambassador that is sent out to delver a message to a distant group of people on behalf of the one who sent him. Paul was one of those apostles that God selected to send out with the message of the Kingdom, more specifically, to make know to us the promise of life in Jesus Christ. The message of the Kingdom is a message of life, not life as we have known it, but true, abundant, and everlasting life. It is a message of hope that we can be saved from our present death to receive new life through the work and agency of Jesus. This message is good news indeed!
Paul's personal letters remind us of how important and transformative it is to have people who believe in us and care for us. Timothy grew up knowing the scriptures and experienced faith in Christ through his grandmother and mother. However, what is conspicuously missing from Paul's brief biography of Timothy's life is any reference to his father. We know nothing about him other than he was a Greek. However, we do know know if he was still living with them or anything about his influence upon the family or Timothy personally. To Timothy, Paul became like a father and he loved Timothy like a son. Reading his letters you can see how Paul loved Timothy, prayed for him, thanked God for him, and longed to see him with the expectancy of great joy at their reunion. It is interesting that previously Paul wrote of the "laying on of hands by the presbytery" (1 Timothy 4:14) yet now speaks more personally of "my hands." (2 Timothy 1:6) We all need people in our lives who love us and believe in us, who will encourage us, and who can mentor us in our walk in the Lord. Paul was such a person to Timothy.
In writing of his service to God, Paul says that he served God with a "clear conscience." This is what we all want, to serve God with no regrets, lingering guilt, or knowledge of any hidden sins. Paul was not saying that he was perfect, but that he walked before God with no consciousnesses of any separation between him and God. This confidence comes from a life spent fleeing sin and pursuing God; a life spent quickly repenting of sin rather than trying to conceal or excuse it. It is a life lived in the open before God and with God as his Lord and Master.
Paul also speaks of his forefathers. Service to God did not begin with Paul, nor did it begin with Jesus, but actually began with Adam. For roughly six thousand years people have been serving God with a "clean consciences" in what ever capacity or manor it was assigned to them. Sometimes, in our short view of history, it is easy to think that everything originated with us. We claim "new revelation" or "new devotion and service" to God, yet such revelation, devotion, and service to God has been going on for millenniums. We are just one more person in a long history of God's relationship with mankind. Perhaps if we take a longer view of history and see ourselves in greater historical content, then we would not be so full of ourselves or so filled with pride as if we were the very first ones to love God. Lovers of God have always walked this earth and we have now received of their legacy. Let us make the most of our appointed time in history and work to leave something worthwhile behind to those who will fallow on after us.