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In Paul’s ‘swansong’ to Timothy, he
opens up in 2 Timothy 1:5 how he
remembers Timothy’s good
beginnings. Paul earmarks the younger
man’s genuine faith, and the Christian
heritage he had enjoyed. Timothy certainly
had good beginnings, but was faltering in
running the Christian race.

running (2021_07_23 15_25_23 UTC)

What were some of the problems he was facing?

It would appear from verse 7 that Timothy was struggling with a spirit of fear. As a young pastor,
Timothy no doubt felt a sense of being overwhelmed by the task that God had called him to. What is
important to distinguish here is that being overwhelmed by a task is not wrong, as long as it drives us
to depend totally upon the Lord.

Timothy began to be ashamed of the gospel of the Lord Jesus. This problem reveals itself in the church
when the Lord’s people stop witnessing. It is sad to say that Christians have no difficulty talking about
their favorite sport team or the weather, but, as Stephen Olford says when it comes to witnessing,
“they are like arctic rivers – frozen at the mouth”.

I have found that Christians can dream up a myriad of reasons why they should not witness. One that is
so familiar is: I have no burden for witnessing. I sense this comes from confusing the gifting of the Holy
Spirit and our responsibility to convey the gospel. 2 Kings 7:9 tells the response of four lepers who
discovered that the besieging Syrian army had fled and they were reveling in the food and wealth.
Suddenly they get a pang of conscience: “Then they said to one another, ‘We are not doing what is
right. This is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait until morning light, some punishment
will come upon us. Now therefore, come, let us go and tell the king’s household.’ ”

This is a day of good news that needs to be proclaimed. Some time ago a survey of 380,000 evangelical
Christians was carried out in the USA. One of the questions in the survey was this: “Have you shared
your faith on at least one occasion in the last 12 months?” Four percent responded with a ‘yes’, which
translates to 15,200 people. I wonder what the figures would have dropped to if the survey question
asked a figure of two,  share the gospel. All sorts of rationalization goes on to justify our shameful silence, like I am not gifted
in that area, or I don’t feel burdened to witness, or my life is my witness or I have to have some special
call. three or four occasions per year.
What these figures highlight, which I believe would be no different in Australia, is that the majority of
Christians are ashamed of the gospel, or at least not sufficiently convicted of their responsibility to

With all due respect, these excuses are patent nonsense conjured up as some sort of panacea for our
consciences. We can spend endless hours watching TV but ask people to help evangelize the
neighborhood, you might get 2-3 percent of the congregation.

I have found that Christians can dream up a myriad of reasons why they should not witness. One that is
so familiar is: I have no burden for witnessing. I sense this comes from confusing the gifting of the Holy
Spirit and our responsibility to convey the gospel. 2 Kings 7:9 tells the response of four lepers who
discovered that the besieging Syrian army had fled and they were reveling in the food and wealth.
Suddenly they get a pang of conscience: “Then they said to one another, ‘We are not doing what is
right. This is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait until morning light, some punishment
will come upon us. Now therefore, come, let us go and tell the king’s household.’ ”

Therefore, we do not have to feel guilty or driven about witnessing. Rather we need to trust God to
impart His willingness and ability to evangelize. Each day we can start by saying, “Lord, I am available
to be used of you whenever and wherever you want. I trust you for your willingness and ability to serve
you effectively.” May God make this a reality in your life.

By Carl Carmody
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