Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. (1 Timothy 1:18-19)
Paul thought of Timothy as his “son in the faith.” We are certain he was not his biological son since the scriptures tell us his father was a Greek.
Many believe this reference to Timothy suggests Paul is the one who led him to Christ. We have no proof of this in the scriptures, yet it is obvious Paul was Timothy’s spiritual mentor, and that alone suggests a “father-son” relationship.
One of the most interesting phrases in our passage today is the “prophecies once made” about Timothy. Are these prophecies recorded in the Bible? And if so, what were they?
It is important to realize a prophecy doesn’t have to be divinely inspired. We think of them as such because we are used to working with biblical prophesy which God used to foretell future events. However, a prediction can also be a visionary statement of hope, based on the potential other people see in an individual.
One of the reasons Paul enlisted Timothy in his ministry after meeting him in Lystra is because “the brothers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him” (Acts 16:2). What did they say? Did they talk about his superior character or leadership abilities? Did they share their hopes and dreams for him as a servant in the church? I imagine some of these kinds of things were shared.
But there may have been other testimonies not recorded in scripture. In fact, it is even possible there were divinely inspired prophecies we are not aware of.
Whatever these prophecies were, it is obvious the dreams other people had for Timothy were a motivating force in his ministry. When he was tempted to throw in the towel he was encouraged to “fight the good fight” and hold to “faith and a good conscience” because other people were cheering for him.
I have always believed, to a great extent, the success of young people in the Lord’s ministry is tied to the encouragement they receive from others. If you are in a church with one or more young ministers on staff, remember that somewhere there are people in the church they grew up in who are cheering for them. There are Sunday School teachers praying for them and countless others who are proud of the commitment they have made to give their lives to full-time ministry. When they went away to Bible College their loved ones stood on the proverbial boat dock waving and whistling as they started their journey.
Don’t be the iceberg that shatters the hopes and dreams of so many. I know you would expect the same from others in whom you have entrusted your own.
Dear God, show me how to encourage Your young servants. In Jesus’ name, Amen.