30 December 2016

2 Timothy 1:8-10

"This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began." (v. 9)

Psalm: Psalm 96:7-10


A recent book, 'Dear Me: A Letter to my Sixteen Year Old Self' collates letters from celebrities asking them what they would write to a younger version of themselves. It is a book of heartbreaking honesty, comic moments, and inspiration from those whom society considers have 'made it' and yet the letters also contain hints of disappointment, frustration, anger and shame. In celebrity culture, as in life, all may not be as serene and ideal as the surface may suggest.

This short passage from 2 Timothy is Paul's final letter to his trusted friend and colleague. The letter has the tendency to sound like the celebrity letters in the book. Paul spends some of his last moments recalling his journey, encouraging his protégé, and offering a clear gospel proclamation in the mix.

It is this proclamation that we find here.

Before the world came into existence, God's gracious plan was brooding. God has moved into the neighbourhood through the person of Jesus. Jesus shows us how to live holy and grace-filled lives, and calls us into a holy life in a deep relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. At the very end of life, through Christ, we have an eternal hope.

Ultimately, Paul is encouraging Timothy not to be discouraged, disappointed, frustrated, angry or ashamed - of either his calling, or of the Gospel itself.

In our contemporary society, it can be easy to become surrounded by negative headlines, images, icons, criticism, cynicism, and examples of poor life choices. Even today, we need the encouragement of Paul's words to cut through some of the surface and the veneer. We too need to live holy and grace-filled lives, equipped by the Spirit and in a deep relationship with Jesus.

As we move towards the turn of another year, we can become increasingly introspective about the past. Perhaps there is an example here of showing generosity and grace to ourselves and to other people.

To Ponder

  • Where have you noticed or received grace this week?
  • Where have you shown grace, or blessed, someone else this week?
  • Write a letter to your sixteen year old self. What would you want your sixteen year old self to hear?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Joanne Cox-Darling

Joanne Cox-Darling is a Methodist presbyter currently serving in the Wolverhampton Circuit, where most recently she participated in a harvest festival in a farmyard, surrounded by a 'small' dairy herd of nearly 200 cattle. Joanne is the chair of the Christian Enquiries Agency ( - described by the Archbishop of York as the "possibly the easiest form of evangelism you will ever do".