I just love it when we get a glimpse of the human side of Paul, the great apostle. There are several passages in Scripture that give us a window into his heart – his emotions – not simply his great theological head.
2 Corinthians does that… but there are others. I just finished reading one in 2 Timothy 4 that is filled with the “personal side” of Paul. It’s a passage that anyone who has ever been involved in the pleasure and pain – the good and bad – the encouraging and the frustrating side of pastoral ministry would understand and identify with.
I’m going to quote Paul’s own words at length… don’t rush past them. Pause and reflect on the feelings of a true spiritual leader that they represent… BUT whatever you do finish with Paul’s last paragraph – a wonderful, faith-filled affirmation!!! Here goes…
“Timothy, do your best to come to me quickly…
“…for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.
“Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me.
“Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.
“I sent Tychicus to Ephesus.
“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.
“Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.
“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.”
Did you feel both the pleasure and pain in Paul’s words – the love and loneliness – as he sought to fulfill his calling and do the Lord’s work (even from prison)?
But now Paul’s ringing, faith-filled affirmation in spite of it all! …
“But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles [the nations] might hear it! I was delivered from the lion’s mouth! The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom! To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (From 2 Timothy 4:9-18 NIV)
Listen, I’ve just got to tell you – as I seek to do the Lord’s work and fulfill his calling on my life, I want to be like Paul – fully human, but also filled with confidence and faith – persistent, prevailing faith in God!