Today you should read: 2 Timothy 1:13-18
“Alone and without fear, Paul stared directly into the eyes of the execution squad. Several held rods with which they would beat him; one held the sharp axe with which he would sever the apostle’s head from his shoulders. Few words were spoken. They marched him through the heavy gate and beyond the stone wall that surrounded Rome, past the pyramid of Cestius, which still stands today, and on to the Ostian Way toward the sea. Crowds journeying to Rome knew by the rods and the axe that an execution would soon transpire. They had seen such sights before. They passed it off with a shrug. It happened yesterday; it would happen tomorrow.
The manacled prisoner, walking stiffly, ragged and filthy from the dungeon, was not ashamed or degraded. The squad of grim-faced soldiers never noticed as they frowned and stared ahead, but there was a faint smile on their prisoner’s face—he was en route to a triumph—the crowning day of his reward. For him to live was Christ, to die, gain. No axe across the back of his neck would rob him of his triumphant destiny. It would, in fact, initiate it!”
This excerpt is from Charles Swindoll’s Great Lives from God’s Word series, Paul—A Man of Grace and Grit. When I read this book in seminary, his final section on 2nd Timothy and his vivid telling of Paul’s end made a lasting impact.
Paul knew the letter we call “2nd Timothy” was his last in a long line of written correspondence. We must remember that. Read this book the way it was written—with emotion. This was probably the last thing Paul ever told his beloved disciple. He asked Timothy to come to him in chapter 4, but it seems likely that all Timothy found was a grave.
Of verses 13 and 14, Swindoll wrote, “[Timothy] was neither to be ashamed of the gospel nor careless with the Truth. The stakes were too high for anything less than a sober guarding of those principles Paul had faithfully deposited into his spiritual account. Paul’s words were not a mere collection of pithy statements; they were entrusted treasure; to be guarded and retained at all cost.” It was now upon Timothy to take up the banner of grace and grit that characterized Paul’s life.
Verses 15–18 strike me as the nostalgia of a dying man. He remembered with pain those who forsook him. Likewise, he remembered with tearful fondness those who showed him mercy and encouragement.
None of us know our end. All we know is the deposit we’re making now. What and to whom are you making a deposit? Can you say with integrity, “Follow me as I follow Christ?” Consider today the example you set for those in your life—what needs to change, how can you be more intentional?
The dash between the dates on a tombstone is a sad symbol for an entire life. Make sure you’re investing your dash well—that what you’ve been entrusted with gets passed on.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate
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