Thursday, 1 March 2018
I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, 2 Timothy 1:3
After his salutation, Paul begins his main thoughts with, “I thank God.” The words are most probably connected to “the genuine faith” mentioned in verse 5. Thus, it would make everything between these parenthetical. In other words, “I thank God … when I call to remembrance the genuine faith.” Paul rejoices over the faith of his young protege, and where it has led him in his life.
From his thanks to God, he then explains his relationship to Him by saying, “whom I serve.” Paul is an apostle of Jesus Christ at this time in his life, but throughout his life he had dedicated his time and energy to a pursuit of God. The fact that he missed Jesus in the process for a time doesn’t mean he wasn’t serving God, but that he was simply doing it incorrectly. His service was and is, “with a pure conscience.” Rather, the Greek here reads, “in a pure conscience.”
It isn’t that he merely had a pure conscience and he served God with it, but that he had a pure conscience, and it was in that sphere of spiritual recognition that he served God. One could say, “I served my nation with the USAF.” This would mean that he served his nation, and it is by the USAF that he did so. Or he could say, I served my nation in the USAF. The USAF became the sphere of his life. Everything that comprised who he was as a person serving his nation was dedicated to the sphere in which he had united. In Paul’s case, he served “in a pure conscience.” From there, he explains that this was “as my forefathers did.”
Two possibilities exist of what he means here. The first is speaking of his forefathers in the faith, such as Abraham, Jacob, David, etc. The second is his line of ancestry through his parents. He was raised a Pharisee, and schooled from a young age in this capacity. His parents would have sent him to school for this, and they would have been schooled before him, holding fast to the traditions of this sect. It is hard to be dogmatic on which option he is referring to, but in Galatians 1, we seem to have a clue –
“For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” Galatians 1:13, 14
The hope of his fathers, either of the faith, or of his ancestry, was in the coming of Messiah. He had missed that coming, and a special call by the Lord Himself was needed to correct this, but it was his hope nonetheless. During his time before coming to the Lord, his life was directed in a pure conscience. That continued on, but with a new direction in which to live it out.
To finish this verse, he then says that his thanks to God were heartfelt and ongoing. This is seen in the words, “as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day.” Timothy must have come to his mind a great deal. As he received reports of him, he would stop and pray for him. As he remembered their travels, he would stop and pray for him. As he worked or walked, he would mentally connect with the Lord and pray for him. The two thoughts – “as without ceasing” and “night and day” – are intended to be taken in this way. Whenever Timothy came to mind, and in whatever Paul was doing, he would also be in prayer to God for him.
Life application: Our minds are always being filled with something. Even when it seems we are not really thinking of anything, something is going on up there. If we train ourselves to be thankful, then thanks will become a part of who we are. If we train ourselves to remember others as we live out our lives, then those type of prayers will become as common as inhaling. Let us mentally redirect our daily thoughts to that which is honoring of God, and productive as Christians.
Lord God, redirect our minds to the contemplation of that which is good and productive. Help us to be thankful always, and to express that thanks to You in everything we do. And help us to think on others that we interact with, and to then remember them in prayers always. This can become as natural as the very breath we take. And so mold us to live in this way. May our lives and thoughts be an honor to You at all times. Amen.