o Timothy, my dear child.
Last Saturday, we celebrate two of St. Paul’s best-known companions: Timothy and Titus. Both were young men when they began working with Paul, and over time both became leaders of the Church in their own right—Timothy in Ephesus and Titus in Crete. While we don’t know all that much about Titus, Scripture gives us a better portrait of Timothy. So let’s see what we can learn from this man’s life in the Lord.
Scripture portrays Timothy as a highly regarded member of the Christian community in Lystra and a man with a deep love for God (Acts 16:2). We first hear about him when Paul visits Lystra during his second missionary journey. That’s where Paul meets the young man and is impressed enough with his faith to invite him along as a helper and sort of apostle-in-training.
Two things that become evident in Paul’s letters to Timothy are the young leader’s lack of experience and his timid personality. Paul admonishes Timothy to stand firm and not yield to erroneous teachings—essentially, to get some backbone and confront the issues threatening the faith of the Christian community at Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:18-20). On another occasion, Paul exhorts him to be more assertive when addressing the community (2 Timothy 1:7) and reminds him how to conduct his personal life (1 Timothy 5:1-6).
Timothy doesn’t sound so good so far, does he? But the positive thing about him is his openness to Paul’s teaching and encouragement. As time goes by, Paul begins to have more confidence in him, to the point where he can say, “I have no one comparable to” Timothy (Philippians 2:20).
What can Timothy’s shortcomings teach us? That God can write straight on crooked lines. He can work with imperfect people. Timothy’s story encourages us to be patient with ourselves—and with each other. It tells us that God is always at work forming and transforming his people, to the point where they are able to work wonders for the gospel.
If God could work in Timothy, he can work in all of us. Even you!
Word Among Us