Read: 2 Timothy 3:14-17
Have you ever been to a sporting event? This could be any sporting event from kids at the soccer field to what I consider the ultimate sporting event: an SEC football game with a sold out stadium. Regardless of the size or the sport, at some point in the event someone (or lots of someones) almost always starts screaming, “Keep going! Go! Go! Go!!” Have you ever noticed that this does not happen when the player is standing still doing nothing? NO! This happens when the player is already doing something, and people want to encourage them to keep going, begging them not to stop!
Outside of these events, how often do we encourage each other to keep going and to continue? When was the last time you told someone, “You are doing great! Keep going!”? But isn’t that exactly what Paul is doing? This past week, Noah spoke on the verses prior to our passage where the descriptions of the godless abounded. In this week’s passage, Paul turns his gaze to Timothy and says, “But as for you, continue.” Continue. Continue what? Continue in what you have learned. Continue in what you have believed. Continue to remember who taught you. Continue to think about the sacred writings that you know. Continue. Continue. Continue.
I think of three groups when I read this charge to Timothy. The first group is full of those that can’t continue in what they have never known. The second group consists of those that can’t continue in a way they have cast aside. The third group is made up of those that continue to walk in the truth of Christ.
First, if they have never learned, never believed, never been taught, or never studied the scriptures, then they are unable to continue in them. But it doesn’t mean that they can’t start. There is always time to come to Christ as long as they are walking on this earth.
The second group contains those that have walked away or, maybe, have strayed off the path. We all know people who have seemed to be on the path of faith, but then they step away completely. Sadly, we are seeing this more and more, and they often seem to be angry and indignant towards the faith. It is heartbreaking to witness. I remember sitting across from my brother the day he told me he was done with Christ. The day he said that it was all made up, and it was no longer a place he wanted to commit his life. I physically felt my heart break. How could he walk away?! How could he turn his back on Jesus? He chose not to continue; instead, he chose to leave completely, and his choice breaks my heart.
Others in this second group might find themselves in a different type of danger because they don’t even know that they aren’t continuing in the faith. They sit beside us on Sunday morning, meet with us in our Grow Groups, and serve with us in the church. They think they are still learning, believing, and following, but in reality, they are slowly veering off the path. If this progression is really slow, those around them might not see the danger at first either, leaving the person to veer without correction. This is a scary place to be, for one day they will see clearly how far away they truly are and wonder how to get back.
In the third group are those that are running (or, in their reality, crawling) down the field. Regardless, they are there; they are doing the work; they are staying true to Christ. My question to you is this: If you find yourself as part of the third group, what is your responsibility to the other two groups and to one another?
So, today I want you to think about these questions. Who do you know in these three groups? Who do you need to pray for, reach out to, or encourage? Who do you need to cheer on to keep going? I pray for my brother, for I long to see him return. I pray for my brother in law who has never walked in the way of faith. I pray for those around me who are staying the course. But there are times that we do need to do more than pray. We need to use our words and actions to reach those in each group, for each person is in very real need of Christ and His salvation.
Lastly, please take time to truly think about which group you are in. Are you running in the field? Are you veering away? Have you considered walking away completely? Are you wondering if you have ever believed? Take time to think about these things. Don’t let them pass you by. Talk to someone and bring them into this inward debate that you are having.
Remember, we are called to continue. If you aren’t continuing or are wondering if your continuing could do with a little shaping up, then seek out guidance and counsel from those around you.
Don’t miss these verses this week. Ponder Paul’s cry of encouragement:
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:14-15).