The letters written by Paul to Timothy are often categorized by many as lessons pertinent to youth. After all, it’s clear that Paul is writing to a younger person in these letters and that he’s seeking both to share some wisdom he has acquired in his lifetime (and on his mission) as well as the message of the Gospel.
But Timothy being young doesn’t mean that people of all ages can’t learn from a letter that was written to him. After all, some favorite Bible stories, including the calling of Samuel and David slaying Goliath, are about younger people.
Here are a few potential lessons seniors in an assisted living community can take from 2 Timothy.
In 2 Timothy 1:8, Paul writes, “So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord.” This comes right after Paul reminds Timothy that God doesn’t send a spirit of fear. Instead, he sends one of power, love and self-control.
The world seems powerful, though, and there is so much that can sway a person’s faith. Medical woes, difficulties with friends and the constant chatter of the news in the background can all play a part in reducing someone’s faith.
Paul tells Timothy to, “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” (2 Tim. 1:14)
Seniors can do the same, guarding the good God has given them, through prayer, fellowship with one another, Bible study and other habits.
In a time when everything else seems to be clamoring for your attention, you can also ask yourself as you approach any activity, thought or effort whether it is pleasing to God and consistent with what you believe his will for you is. Sometimes, we find that some of the battles we’re fighting with others are not, and they cause us to be disloyal in our faith.
Paul writes almost a chapter and a half before he tells Timothy to reflect on it all and, “the Lord will give you insight into all this.” (2 Tim. 2:7)
God doesn’t want us to do all this figuring out of things on our own. That’s because he knows that no matter who we are, how old we are, how many books we’ve read and how much experience we have, we can’t figure it all out on our own. We’re not him; we’re human.
Humanity couldn’t save itself or even follow the law that God laid out so they could make atonement for sins. So, God sent his Son to save his people and offer final Atonement. And Jesus left the Holy Spirit to guide us and give us insight when we read God’s Word and ponder our place in the world as one of God’s new creatures.
Paul knew that sometimes people would try to go it on their own, and that it can be easy to get confused in this world. It’s noisy, busy and constant, and sometimes things such as politics or current events can seem like the most important items on the horizon.
But Paul reminds Timothy — and us — to be careful about listening to false teachers. But it’s not just the obvious false messages Paul warns about. He says, “Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.” (2 Tim. 2:14)
Paul essentially says to weigh one’s words, especially if you think you’re speaking the Gospel or God’s truth to someone else. Make sure the words have meaning and aren’t just something you’re repeating that is of the world and fruitless.
Seniors who do want to share God and the Gospel with others can continue to study the Bible, talk about it with others and even consult with chaplains in the assisted living community to ensure they’re speaking truth and not something that sounds like truth but might be partly false.
Paul ends his letter to Timothy by reminding him that the road with Jesus is not always easy. “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” he says, and then tells Timothy to continue on anyway. (2 Tim. 3:12-14)
Older adults of faith who have walked this road for a while know that this is the case, and they may be faithful to it anyway. One way to reduce some of the hardship on this road is to seek fellowship with other believers. That’s one reason to choose a faith-based senior living community. While not everyone might have the same beliefs, you’re more likely to interact with people who do. And, you can take advantage of worship, Bible study and other faith activities right in the community.