The Discipline of Discipleship: 2 Timothy 2:1-2
To some degree or another every single one of us is selfish in our approach to church. You are a selfish Christian. The question is how selfish are you. Think about the seat the people that you choose to sit with this morning. If you were not consciously thinking about how to serve others, you most likely choose your seat entirely relative to what was most comfortable for you. That is selfishness. Selfishness is a sin that I have been particularly challenged with this year and the truth found in our text this evening was the vaccination that helped me fight against a self-centred Christianity. In the first semester back at seminary, after interning here last summer, I was very busy, and as far as I can recall, I wasn’t involved in any form of evangelism or discipleship. I told myself that I had a lot on my plate and that faithfulness to God now meant working as hard as I could at my studies and saving other non-essentials for the time after seminary. I was essentially selfish in the way that I interacted with my church. I went church and sat beside my friends. I went to all of the meetings we had but I turned up only a few minutes before the service started and left with the crowd at the end. However, in the prayer meetings at my church I was repetitively challenged by the prayer requests of others for the discipleship and evangelistic relationships that they were involved in. So, after dropping the ball in the first semester, I decided to pick it up in the second and invest discipling and evangelistic relationships. I can’t share with you any incredible stories of mass conversions or spiritual revivals as a result of my efforts, but I have seen a huge change in my own spiritual growth in a change of heart toward my local church.
We are increasingly pressured by our culture today to be selfish in relation to church. The individualism of our day has enabled us to make an excuse for the selfishness that is common to all people in all times. And with the business of our schedules there is a strong temptation to neglect investing in our fellow church members through discipleship. But a busy schedule calls us to focus on the essentials. In his final letter to Timothy, written from prison only a few years before his execution, Paul instructs Timothy to entrust the gospel to faithful men. In contrast to the false teachers, Phygelus and Hymongenes in previous chapter, who abandoned Paul when the serving other Christians began to mean that they would have to suffer, Paul challenges Timothy to embrace suffering in order to serve others in discipleship.
He tells him: “You then my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and the things that you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:1-2) Paul explains to Timothy that “because the grace of Christ is sufficient, we should fight against the temptation of serving ourselves to and work to help others to grow by pursuing discipleship.” That is the meaning of these two verses and the main idea of our sermon today. Let me repeat it for those of you who are taking notes “because the grace of Christ is sufficient, we should fight against the temptation of serving ourselves to and work to help others to grow by pursuing discipleship.”