“Don’t Do Life Alone”
This is a common slogan among congregations trying to get Americans to get involved with small groups and discipleship groups in their churches.
Why do we have to say, “Don’t do life alone”? Because we’re often very tempted to try. Sadly, some succeed in living their lives all by themselves.
Some are thrust into a lonely lifestyle because of action beyond their control. Most are there by choice.
As stated last week, the letter of 2 Timothy is essentially the Apostle Paul’s final will and testament. It was written in the quiet loneliness of a dungeon. The Apostle was waiting for what was most likely going to be his death. In the face of martyrdom, Paul writes to his faithful son in ministry one final time.
As we continue into this letter, we are in 2 Timothy 1:3-5 where we read:
3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.2 Timothy 1:3-5
New International Version
As the Apostle Paul continues his letter to Timothy, he bypasses the customary commission most Roman letters have. Instead, he takes a reflective tone. He thanks the Lord for Timothy’s life. His comments about Timothy are not the glossy, syrup-laded political statements sometimes made in letters in the Roman world to which they belonged.
His comments about Timothy came from Paul’s heart. They were sincere expressions of his admiration for his protégé and son in ministry.
The emotion expressed by Paul and even his mentioning of Timothy’s tears seem so overly emotional between two men. But that very thought is a 21st-century western idea being read back into Paul’s 1st-century world. At that time, emotion from men was much more acceptable—including tears and expressions of joy. Perhaps there’s something else we can learn from the 1st century.
What’s remarkable to me is that when Paul could have been filled with an obsession over his own loneliness and impending death, he seems downright cheerful. He is filled with gratitude and praise for the Lord and His blessings in Paul’s life.
Even in his expression of how he missed Timothy, there is a hopefulness, a sincere joy in his words.
But the reality is Paul was lonely. Why was he lonely?
Because he was now alone.
I know…not necessarily Earth-shattering but hang with me. Paul did not live his life in solitary confinement. His endeavors we read about in the book of Acts were rarely solo acts. Very rarely was Paul ever alone in doing anything.
Reading through 1 and 2 Timothy, we find the same thing: Timothy was being discipled by Paul. And these men loved each other as brothers in Christ, and as father and son.
How about you? Who is your Timothy? Who is your Paul? Who is the one (or the group) without whom you would be lonely?
Paul was lonely because he was away from his family of faith. His “peeps” weren’t there with him—not that he would want them in prison.
But in the pangs of loneliness, the aged apostle felt the joy of having people in his life who missed him and whom he missed. What a gift. And what perspective.
I pray for you today that you would invest in someone deeply. And let someone invest in you. Don’t do life alone. Get involved with a small group in your congregation. If you don’t have a congregation, find one. And then get involved with a small group in your congregation.
Don’t do life alone. Feel the joy of knowing you love others and they love you.