And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
— 2 Timothy 2:2
Can you think of an occasion when you were hurt by someone so badly that you were tempted to think, That’s it! I’ll never give my heart to anyone like that ever again! This hurts too much to go through this a second time. I’ve had all the abuse I can take, and I’ll never put my neck back on the chopping block again!
I think everyone has been through heart-wrenching experiences of betrayal, disloyalty, deception, and unfaithfulness in his or her relationships with others. Sometimes people put on one face in front of you but show a totally different side when they are out of your presence. Maybe it was a close friend you thought would be faithful to you forever; but then that person walked out on you, stabbing you in the back as he exited! Or perhaps you had a trusted friend whom you confided in, but he violated your trust by repeating all the private things you had shared with him.
There’s no doubt about it — it hurts when you find out that certain people in your life have been unfaithful, especially if they were people who you sincerely believed would be loyal to the end. These feelings of hurt must be exactly what Timothy felt as he was serving as senior pastor of the church of Ephesus. After investing his life into his group of leaders for three years — spending time with them, loving them, caring for them, teaching them, forgiving them, and literally pouring his whole heart and soul into them, as pastors are required to do — Timothy correctly expected a return on his investment. In other words, he expected those leaders to stay with him forever!
The return Timothy anticipated from his leaders was commitment and faithfulness. For those same men to deny him their loyalty after all he had poured into them was a flagrant violation of relationship, yet that is precisely what they did. The majority of those leaders walked out of the church and deserted Timothy.
It is a historical fact that because of Nero’s persecutions against the Church, masses of believers left the Ephesian church and returned to their old pagan temples. The fires of persecution had revealed the genuine level of these people’s commitment to Jesus. When they realized they might die for their faith, they reevaluated their commitment and deserted the Lord, the Church, and their pastor in order to save their lives.
Many of those who left the church of Ephesus were the leaders Timothy had trained and poured his life into. Timothy thought he could count on these leaders to serve at his side in both good and hard times. But now hard times had come, and the ones he had assumed he could trust walked out and abandoned him.
As a result, Timothy had a severe deficit of leaders whom he could rely on and was facing the task of selecting new leaders. So Paul tells him, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men….”
These are pretty heavy instructions for Paul to give his young disciple! Timothy had already been “burned” once after giving his life to a group of people. He knew what it felt like to have people he trusted stab him in the back. Nevertheless, Paul now tells Timothy to choose a new group and start all over again!
At that moment, Timothy’s emotional pain must have been enormous. I’m sure Paul’s words were hard for him to hear. Just as you and I have felt in the past, he probably thought, Forget it! I’ve already been through this pain once, and I don’t like the idea of going through it again. I’ll just pastor this church by myself!
But it’s not possible to do any monumental job alone. Therefore, if a person has been hurt, he eventually has to get over it, choose new leaders and friends, and start over again. That is why Paul told him, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men….”
The word “commit” comes from the Greek compound word paratithimi, a compound of the words para and tithimi. The word para is a Greek word that means alongside. It refers to something that is near or close by. But in Second Timothy 2:2, it presents a picture of close relationships.
The second part of the word is the Greek word tithimi, meaning to place, to lay something down, or to position something. When the words para and tithimi are compounded together, creating the word paratithimi, it means to come close in order to make some type of deposit, like a person who goes to the bank to place a deposit into the repository for safekeeping. Significantly, this is now the word Paul uses when he tells Timothy to “commit” himself to a new group of leaders.
Timothy clearly understood Paul’s instruction. He was to pick a new group of leaders, come closely alongside of them, and deposit his life into them. The Greek word para made it plain that this was not something that could be done from a distance. Timothy would be required to push aside his hurt and pain and to make himself vulnerable to a new group of leaders; in other words, he had to give his heart a second time.
Because of Timothy’s past experience with leaders who had defected, this order from Paul may have been one of the scariest thoughts the younger minister had ever had. Timothy may have thought, Wait a minute! I already poured my life into one group of people. But when I needed them — when I needed to draw on that deposit — they were gone! My last deposit in people didn’t work out too well. They hurt me. I don’t know if I’m willing to make that kind of investment in people again!
Timothy may have asked himself, Isn’t this taking things one step too far? Does God really expect me to stick out my neck all over again after I’ve been hurt? But that is exactly what Paul was telling him to do — and it’s what you must do as well! Stick out your neck and your heart, and try again!
The use of the word paratithimi meant that Paul wanted Timothy to understand this message:
“…You need to choose some new people who have proven themselves faithful. Pull up alongside those people; get as close to them as you can so you can deposit everything you are and everything you know into them.”
Timothy’s future depended on how well he was able to connect and work with other people. The same is true with your future. Rather than allow the pain from past experiences to paralyze you today, you must do what Paul commanded Timothy to do: Put the past away; decide to quit focusing on how others have failed you; and begin to search for a new group of people or friends so you can start over again. If you don’t do this, the devil will have the victory over you — paralyzing and immobilizing you, effectively preventing you and your gifts from ever being fully realized. Don’t give the devil the pleasure of that victory!
It’s time for you to grab hold of the power of God and to emerge out of your place of hiding! It may be true that a person or a group of people hurt you in the past, but there are friends out there who are just waiting for you. They are the ones who will be faithful and steadfast all the way to the end. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and direct you to them. Once you connect with them, you’ll be so thankful that you didn’t hide from relationships for the rest of your life and that you took the bold step to start all over again!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, help me overcome the hurts and disappointment I’ve experienced because of people who proved to be unfaithful. When I am tempted to judge those who have wronged me, help me remember those whom I myself have wronged in the past. Just as I never intended to hurt anyone, help me realize that my offenders probably didn’t intend to hurt me either. As I was forgiven then, I am asking You now to help me forgive — and not just to forgive, but to stick out my neck again and begin to rebuild my life with other people in the Body of Christ!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I don’t hold grudges or bitterness against anyone who has wronged me in the past. Just as I’ve been forgiven, I freely forgive. As others gave me a second chance, I give people the benefit of the doubt and allow them to prove themselves even if they’ve done something to hurt me. The devil can’t paralyze me with fears of being hurt again, because I refuse to allow that kind of fear to operate inside me. I have too much to do to let the devil immobilize me with something that happened to me in the past, so I confess right now that I am freed from every past hurt and I am moving forward to possess all that God has for me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Has anyone ever let you down so badly that you felt like you never wanted to stick out your neck and risk getting hurt again?
2. Have you ever been the source of this type of pain to someone else? If your answer is yes, did you ever go back to that person to repent for being the source of his or her pain?
3. What can you do differently in your relationships today to make sure that never happens again?