How to fight discouragement (Part 2

Artist's depiction of Timothy and Lois, by Willem Drost, 1650. (Image Source: WikiMedia Commons)
Artist's depiction of Timothy and Lois, by Willem Drost, 1650. (Image Source: WikiMedia Commons)

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God. 2 Tim. 1:8

We are looking at ways the apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to fight discouragement in his walk with the Lord. Though he was writing to a pastor, the truth is that these instructions are fitting for all believers. Yesterday, we looked at the apostle's direction in terms of stirring up the gift of God in us. Today, we will look at the apostle's direction in terms of Timothy's spiritual heritage.

In verses 3-5, Paul reminds Timothy of three sources of encouragement: (1) their own friendship with each other (note how Paul calls Timothy his "dearly beloved son" in verse 2), (2) the "forefathers" whom he would have shared with Timothy, spiritual ancestors from whom they had inherited the task of carrying forward God's truth into a new generation, and (3) the spiritual heritage he had been bequeathed, from his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. Calvin comments that Timothy "was reared in his infancy in such a way that he could suck in godliness along with his mother's milk." It is from the encouragement of his past that Timothy was exhorted in verse 6 to stir up the gift of God in him.

Now I know that not every Christian was raised in a Christian home. The truth of the matter is, though Timothy had a godly mother and grandmother, there is no indication that his father was. But the reality is that if you are a Christian, you are the heir of a great spiritual heritage. You are part of the church, the family of God, and you are rich with many mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters in the faith. Avail yourself of the company of the faithful.

The reason this is so important is that the quickest way to let the embers of faith and hope and joy go out is to become disconnected from other believers, both past and present. Coals need each other to keep glowing. We need therefore to counteract discouragement by the encouragement and example of others. This is essentially what Paul is telling Timothy to do, and it is good advice for us as well. Take advantage of the fellowship and the accountability the church provides. Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together (cf. Heb. 10:25).

Another way to do this is by reading church history and the biographies of godly men and women. They are our spiritual ancestors, and we can be instructed and encouraged by their example and faith. Doing so reminds us that we are not alone, that we are not the first to face difficulties, and that we are in every sense the product of previous generations of believers.

Brothers and sisters, don't be discouraged! Consider and take heart from the example of a great cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1), men and women of faith who give us every reason to fight fear with faith.

By: Jeremiah Bass