We are starting to look at 1st and 2nd Timothy at the homeless shelter, and as I started the book, I noticed how Paul refers to Timothy as his "true child in the faith", and to explain this to people who have not grown up in church I had to do a brief history on Paul and Timothy.
Paul came in contact with hundreds and thousands of people on his journey, and out of all those people there were fellow Christians, and out of those there were fellow ministers and missionaries, all precious in their own way to Paul. Timothy, however, was in a different category with Paul.
Timothy had something about his character and his faith that caught the attention of the local church in Lystra and Iconium and he was commended to Paul. Timothy had an unwavering faith that put the advancement of the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom ahead of himself. How dedicated was he to the gospel? When Paul told Timothy that his lack of circumcision would prohibit his entry to the synagogues, Timothy was willing to let Paul circumcise him so this would not hinder the gospel.
The Bible records that after Timothy was ordained, by Paul and the church brethren, he ministered in at least five New Testament churches. Timothy accompanied Paul on most of his second journey travels after leaving Lystra, and that he was with Paul in Ephesus during the third missionary journey and is sent from there to minister the brethren in Macedonia. Later on he meets with others at Troas to accompany Paul through Asia on his way to Jerusalem.
When Paul is imprisoned in Rome in 61 A.D. at the end of his fourth missionary journey, we see in his 4 prison epistles that three of them mention Timothy being with him there. Finally at the end of Paul’s fifth and final journey, while he is in Rome for a second time just before his death, Paul requests his closest friend Timothy to visit him and bring his personal copies of his writings.
Paul testified to those in Philippi regarding the unique Christian character of Timothy and his dedication to spreading the gospel. He said, "For I have no one who is likeminded, who has genuine concern for you . . . But you know the proof of him, that as a child with a father, he served with me in the gospel (Philippians 2:20, 22).
The relationship that Paul had with Timothy was beyond that of any of his other fellow Christians or ministers. Paul saw that Timothy was worthy to invest everything in.
I don't pour my everything into what I do at our local homeless shelter. I don't pour my everything into what I do at my local church. I don't pour my everything into what I teach at the STEPS recovery class.
Why, you might ask? It's because I don't invest in people who straddle the fence trying to keep one foot in the world and one foot in God's kingdom. People who continue to rely on their addictions to satisfy themselves, live in unrepentant sin to bring them temporary happiness, and continue to go back to their same lifestyles. There are others out there who have counted the cost and have decided that they would give up anything and everything to follow Jesus, they are willing and eager to learn, and they welcome scrutiny of their life, for these people I would give my everything to, I would spend all my time for, I would teach everything I know, I would welcome them into my ministry, there is nothing I wouldn't do to help them advance in their faith.
The Discipleship Center does not take in every homeless person, every addict, every delinquent that bangs on our door. We are looking for people who are teachable, those who are looking for discipline, in hopes that out of those good candidates that we will find those who want to be true disciples of Jesus, that want to be ambassadors for his kingdom, and turn around and look to make more disciples of Jesus.