Paul and Timothy – mentor and friends united in faith and love
One of my favourite books is “Tuesdays with Morrie” The book is an account of the visits that the author, Mitch Albon, faithfully undertook to his old college professor , who at that time was suffering from a degenerative illness of which he eventually died. Now you may well be thinking that is sounds a very depressing read but it is actually very far from that as the beauty of the relationship between former teacher and student develops into one which is mutually supportive and nurturing. Because their time together is limited and relatively confined due to Morrie’s physical condition they are able to focus on their conversations as there are no other distractions to this and thus the quality of their discussions is enhanced. It’s a really wonderful read and if anyone would like to borrow my copy please give me shout!
Mitch and Morrie’s friendship reminds me in some ways of that between Paul and Timothy, the former being very much in the role of teacher and mentor to begin with while the latter fulfils the role of eager and willing student and assistant. Paul and Timothy also had their relationship constrained by the circumstances of frequent physical separation and Paul’s imprisonment.
Yet this was a very special and life giving relationship for both men. Paul, the convert from zealous Jew to passionate evangelist for Christ, and Timothy, the son of a mixed marriage between a Greek and a Jew, who grew up influenced by his mother, Eunice and grandmother, Lois, both of whom had converted to the Christian faith.
Timothy travelled with Paul on a number of his missionary journeys, supporting him in his ministry while learning much which would sustain him when he remained in Ephesus, supporting the church there while Paul travelled on to Macedonia. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul is very much in teacher mode as he instructs his erstwhile assistant in a number of doctrinal matters regarding the way in which the church should operate. The affection and respect that Paul had for Timothy from his opening greeting “To Timothy my true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2) right the way through this letter in which he affirms Timothy’s calling as “ a man of God” (1 Timothy 6:11)
Paul’s second letter is very different in tone. Written in prison, Paul was missing his companion and was anxious that Timothy remained strong in spirit and in faith. Paul expressed his longing to see Timothy, urging him to visit as he was feeling isolated and deserted by those he had considered friends and supporters.
Paul’s faith in God remains resolute, he knows the Lord is with him, but that doesn’t stop him missing his dear friend Timothy. Their relationship is reciprocal – Paul may be the more experienced, older person but Timothy’s youth and enthusiasm is equally as important in the friendship. “ I have no one else like him” says Paul of Timothy in Philippians 2:20. What a wonderful tribute to their friendship!
We all bring different blessings to our friendships, that is the beauty of them. Friendships evolve in all sorts of different ways, sometimes between those who begin their relationship in very different roles, just as Paul and Timothy did, just like Mitch and Morrie.
Yet however our friendships evolve we should give thanks to God for those who support us and enrich our lives and seek to encourage each other as we journey together.
Why not spend some time today naming before God those people who He has placed in our lives with whom a friendship has unexpectedly grown and ask for His blessing on them not just on this day but always