On Thursday afternoon, Bishop Gary Lillibridge took time to introduce the diocesan theme for 2014 of “Rekindle the gift of God within you” from Paul’s second letter to Timothy.
Lillibridge said that 2 Timothy, along with 1 Timothy and the letter to Titus, are considered the “pastoral letters.” However, 2 Timothy is particularly pastoral and personal as Paul writes to his disciple Timothy.
It is probably Paul’s last letter, and is likely written during Paul’s final imprisonment in Rome when Paul knew that his death was imminent. In seeking to inspire Timothy, Paul gives him three exhortations: the first is to “rekindle” the faith that is in him and that was passed on from his mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois. It brings to mind, said Lillibridge, “someone fanning a fiery flame.” Timothy is already gifted for ministry by the spirit. “The spirit’s gift is already within Timothy,” said the bishop, “and the spirit’s first work has to do with formation of Timothy’s character rather than ministerial empowerment.”
Secondly, Paul urges Timothy to “not be ashamed.” Difficulties are ahead, opponents think the message is bogus, and the cost of advancing it will be high.
Third, Paul reminds Timothy to “live a godly life with a commitment to pass on the faith . . . Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you, guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”
Faith, said Lillibridge, means “steadfast loyalty.” That includes rekindling that which has been handed down to us, he said. “Faith increases as it is exercised; faith begets faith.” We pray for God to increase our faith. “It is a gift to be nurtured and given away.”