I’ve been praying that our fresh look at Paul and Timothy’s friendship would strengthen our desire to become better friends. Like Paul, who understood the brevity of his life on earth, we also understand that our days are numbered, and if we want to make a difference here, we have to get a move on! We need friends to help us with that.
Paul knew Timothy needed encouragement, instruction, and most of all, a friend whose motivation would help him spread the gospel message to anyone who would listen. Who in your world needs you to believe in them that powerfully? Are you willing to do the hard work of friendship?
I’ve been blessed recently with the friendship of a young woman who gave up her time to create this review of What Friends Want: Part 1 & Part 2:
Today, let’s finish studying how Paul befriended Timothy by identifying the last four of our ten traits that all friends surely want:
7. ENCOURAGEMENT TO FULFILL THEIR PURPOSE
“I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of his appearing and his kingdom: Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching … Exercise self-control in everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:1-2; 5)
Whether we like it or not, people who take the time to look closely into our hearts can see things in us that escape our notice. Sometimes, it’s our strengths that are easily spotted standing tall against our life’s backdrop. Other times, our weaknesses shoot flares into the night sky for all to see. For most of us, it’s easier to see our shortcomings than to appreciate our gifts. Perhaps, one of the best things you can do for a friend is to help them discover their purpose. We all need friends who will remind us of our calling, push us to take that next big step, and encourage us when the going gets rough.
“At my first defense, no one stood by me, but everyone deserted me. May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that I might fully preach the word and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil work and will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom.” (2 Timothy 4:16-18)
Paul had already been transparent with Timothy in his first letter when he described himself as a former blasphemer, a persecutor, and an arrogant man who was the worst of all sinners. Here in the second letter, we get a glimpse of the loneliness and rejection Paul felt when his friends deserted him. Only someone like Paul could effectively minister to a young man going through similar struggles.
Left to our own descriptions, our lives are woven with colorful and beautifully placed threads designed with great artistic flair. On one side, a beautiful face forms and gets displayed for all the world to see. The bright, twinkling eyes of our tapestry shine just above brilliant smiles with sparkling teeth. I don’t know about you, but in my 60+ years I’ve seen enough phony baloney to last me a lifetime. What I want in a friend is to see the messy, knotty threads on the backside. Only then can messy relationships get real! Our purpose in friendship is to look at the knotted threads, find the similarities, and together untangle them one by one. The friendship journey unties as many knots as possible and then revels in having them flap freely in the breeze. Friendship isn’t about creating a beautiful facade; it’s about giving us the freedom to become who God intended us to be.
“Make every effort to come to me soon … When you come, bring the cloak I left in Troas with Carpus, as well as the scrolls, especially the parchments … Make every effort to come before winter.” (2 Timothy 9; 13; 21)
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this study of friendship it’s this: We give best what we need most, and giving takes time. It really doesn’t matter what your love language is. They all take time. It takes time to be together to exchange a warm embrace or a touch of the hand. Gifts bought take time not only in the purchasing, but also in finding out the wants and needs of another. Serving takes time. Speaking, texting, or emailing words of affirmation takes time.
Paul wanted some of Timothy’s time – one of the most valuable and precious things Timothy possessed. Look at the boldface words again in the Scripture above. I’m certain Paul realized the demands placed on young Timothy, but Paul knew his time was short. He wanted to see Timothy one last time.
In this season of my life, my schedule is busy, but not hectic like it used to be. I have to keep in mind that not everyone can say that. While I enjoy big chunks of time spent with friends, I’ve come to realize that I love some of my friends best by only requiring a spoonful of their time. If a text is all they have time for, I don’t mind one of mine lingering in their phones until they have an opportunity to see it. But, believe me! It’s taken some time to reach that point. Now I see that everyone’s time is precious and every drop given should be appreciated.
10. PRAYERS AND BLESSING
“The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all.” (2 Timothy 4:22)
Paul knew the very best friend Timothy could ever have was Jesus. He knew Jesus would be able to AFFIRM him with GENTLE WORDS. Even if everyone else denied friendship with Timothy, Jesus would remain LOYAL because Jesus is a friend who stays – no matter what! Having the Lord with his spirit would impart WISDOM. Timothy could have no better EXAMPLE offered to him than that of Jesus. He would REMIND Timothy of His love, ENCOURAGE HIM TO FULFILL HIS PURPOSE, and gives him confidence to become completely TRANSPARENT. TIME spent with Jesus would engulf Timothy with peace when he felt lonely and rejected. And because Paul knew these things first hand, he PRAYED for Timothy to develop a friendship with Jesus.
The sweeter our friendship with Jesus develops, the more satisfying our friendships become.
I’m praying now that you and your friends feel the presence of the Lord so strongly that you find grace to untangle your tapestry’s threads just longing to dance in the wind.