The Stretch: Beyond Yourself

Stretching yourself in life is a discontinuity that causes growth. The Gospel is good news that requires change. The reality of the world around us is that we have to stretch ourselves.

2 Timothy 1
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,
2 To Timothy, my dear son:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

So, 2 stretches we need to consider – how do we live and how do we parent?

They are 2 sides of the same coin because how you live is how you parent. It’s not about what you aspire to or the life you dream for your kids. It’s the reality of what it is.

There are 3 takeaways from the scripture above.

1. Gifts are bestowed within the church, for the church. (vs. 6: Fan into flame – Pentecost is progressive) The result is vs. 7, followed by 8: So, do not be ashamed. It’s only possible with a growing flame. It’s the testimony of downward mobility.

In suffering is where faith is grown, and gifts are expanded.

We shouldn’t be ashamed; we should join in!

A campfire begins only with a small flame or spark. If you blow on it too much, the fire goes out. If you suffocate the flame, the fire goes out. A flame grows stronger with a steady, consistent wind, and there will be wind in life. There will be suffering. But you need to ask yourself, have you stepped forward into it?

2. See the bigger picture. (vs. 9-10) His purpose and grace are seen before the beginning of time, and it’s now revealed. (vs. 11-12a) The sentiment here is to get on board with that. Herold! Apostle! Teacher!

God’s economy: The greater the faith or title, the larger the suffering.

Be wary of Spiritual leaders who don’t communicate this as truth. Comfort is healing.

3. God will protect what is entrusted. (vs. 12-14)
  • Paul’s faith (perseverance)
  • Paul’s legacy (the Church)
  • Paul’s friend, his son (Timothy)

Paul wants to see Timothy make it. Others do not.

Your faith is about you and your heart before God.
The stretch, your witness, and how you live are ultimately not about you. It’s about those you love, whether that’s your spouse, children, etc.

  • Grace and truth – which one will lead your family?
  • Love over fear – which will dictate the choices and freedoms?
  • Mercy over hate – which people do you allow into your life?
  • Generosity over greed – are you proud to show your record of giving?

As you journey through these questions, encourage your kids to join in, giving their life away. (vs. 8) Join with me in suffering. It’s a strange wish for a “father” to his son, but we must remember that suffering leads to a growth in faith and expansion of gifts.

At the end of Paul’s life, he had to ask himself if it was worth it. Did he do the right thing? For Timothy, it was all about Jesus in him.

2 Timothy 2
8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.

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