What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. (2 Timothy 1:13-14)
In a letter the Apostle Paul wrote, which constitutes the first chapter of Second Timothy, Paul states that he loves Timothy like a son. He blesses Timothy with grace and peace that come from God and Jesus. Then he tells Timothy that he remembers him in his prayers day and night, which signifies that Timothy is always on his mind. He says that he is grateful to God for Timothy, which encourages Timothy. And then to express his vigilance over Timothy’s welfare, Paul recalls how Timothy has been sorrowful and expresses his desire for Timothy to be filled with joy.
Paul teaches Timothy that he does not have to allow his circumstances to determine his attitude. He is in prison. As an inmate, he has every reason to be despondent and angry. He is chained so he cannot get loose. He has lost the thing he loves the most...establishing churches that worship Jesus. But Paul will not let his adverse circumstance get him down. How does he do it? He finds reasons to be grateful and he wants the best for others. For example, he wants Timothy to be filled with joy.
Without having to write a single word, Paul teaches Timothy about the power of one’s attitude. Paul could remind himself of lots of things, like things he does not have anymore. But he chooses to remind himself of good things like Timothy’s sincere faith, which he attributes to Timothy’s mother and grandmother. They were wonderful examples of faithful persons who helped Timothy form his faith and practice it.
Paul cares enough about Timothy to challenge him to overcome his shortcomings. For example, he had learned Timothy’s expression of faith is lacking in some way. So he tells Timothy, “For God does not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” If Timothy is somewhat of a coward, he has good reason. Paul is imprisoned because of his bold proclamation of the Gospel and he might be afraid that if he proclaims the Gospel boldly, he too could be imprisoned. But he needs to remember his calling and be faithful to it. With that gift, he can endure anything the opposition throws at him.
Wouldn’t it be great to write a letter like that to someone you care about?