Succession; March 31, 2020


2 Timothy 2:1-2 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

In his second letter to Timothy Paul is obviously very aware that he is nearing the end of his race. (2 Timothy 4:6-8) Accordingly, he is very focused on the success of his successor. Just as he has entrusted the truths he received from God to Timothy, he now tells Timothy to entrust those truths to the next spiritual generation. Many people have noted that the Church is always no more than one generation away from extinction; God’s truth must be passed on. That’s why in the Great Commission Jesus didn’t say, “make converts,” He said, “make disciples.” (Matthew 28:18-20) A disciple is going to transmit what they have received to others, so that they may in turn pass it on as well, just as Paul says here. It’s important to note that Paul specifies reliable/faithful/trustworthy (all of those are justifiable translations) people. It does little good to depend on flakes! That said, none of us are particularly reliable apart from the grace of God. Paul isn’t telling Timothy to find perfect people, because there aren’t any. However, he is telling him to be a good judge of character. Usually, God will bring people to us, and if we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit, we will recognize those into whom we are to pour our all. After all, Jesus chose the 12, and from among them he chose Peter, James, and John. They certainly weren’t perfect, as the Bible records, but despite stumbling, they showed themselves faithful. We are to proclaim the Gospel to all who will receive it, and we are to pour ourselves unstintingly into those who the Lord shows us, so that they will in turn continue to spread the Gospel.

The whole subject of succession has been a touchy one for me over the years, because each time I have had a potential successor, they have gone somewhere else! That said, there are several in active ministry right now who are the result of my ministry, and for that I am deeply grateful. I continue to ask the Lord to make it clear who is to succeed me in this place with this flock, and trust Him for health and energy until His choice is clear. Just yesterday I had enormous encouragement in this area in a video chat with one of our daughters. (I am very grateful for the technology that enables us to do that, each of us on our respective devices.) She was talking about the foundation she feels we gave her, how she is aware of God all the time and how Scripture wells up from within her. I had tears of joy over that! I have no fears for my grandsons, with a mother like that! God is the ultimate judge of my success in every area. I am to keep walking in faithful obedience, letting Him do through me whatever He desires, so that His name may be acknowledged as holy and His kingdom come as His will is done.

Father, thank You for this reminder, and for faithful children, both genetic and spiritual. May I be a faithful child to You indeed, for Your glory alone. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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