To Timothy my true son in the faith . . . (1 Timothy 1:2) (NIV)
Today’s is the first in a series of short, weekly devotionals that will be based on the Apostle Paul’s two letters to a young man named Timothy. Paul led Timothy to Jesus, when he brought the Gospel to the town of Lystra in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). Timothy, the son of a Gentile father and Jewish mother, later accompanied Paul on some of his missionary journeys. (Cf. Acts 14:8-20; Acts 16:1-5) (NIV).
Paul opened his first letter to Timothy by calling him a “true son in the faith.” (1 Timothy 1:2) (NIV). What an incredible affirmation and encouragement! When I read those words, they arrested my attention because I heard in them not only Paul’s voice but also the voice of the Father. Timothy was not only a “true son” to Paul, he also was a “true son” to God.
As I reflected on that description of Timothy, my own heart longed for God to see me as He saw Timothy, and to speak to me those very same words: “Niki, you are My true son in the faith.” Then, in the midst of that longing and deep yearning of my soul, the Lord spoke to me. He affirmed to me that I am “a true son in the faith,” a son with whom He is “well pleased.” (Cf. Matthew 3:17) (NIV). I do not need to hope for a future day in which I will be ‘good enough’ for God to finally see me as a “true son” in whom He delights. That day has already come; it is already here! And it is not because of anything I have done or accomplished; it is simply because I have put my faith in what His firstborn Son – my Savior, Lord, and older brother – accomplished on my behalf two thousand years ago.
Through my faith in Jesus, I have received the Spirit of adoption that has made me a son of the Living God – a son who, like Jesus, can call Him “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15; Mark 14:36) (NIV). It is a life-changing, hope-giving, mind-blowing truth with eternal implications: I am a “true son” of the King of Kings, the Creator of all things, the Ancient of Days.
And the same is true of you: If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ, you are a “true” son or daughter of God Most High. You have been clothed in His righteousness; you have been imbued with His power; you have been enthroned beside Him in heavenly places; and you have been made a co-heir with Jesus to an eternal inheritance of incalculable value and indescribable glory. (Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21; Acts 1:8; Ephesians 2:6; Romans 8:17-18) (NIV). No matter how many times you stumble, no matter how many times you fail, no matter how many times you fall short, no matter how poor or negative your image of (or thoughts about) yourself, your Heavenly Father sees you as and speaks of you as His “true son,” His “true daughter.”
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1) (NIV).