“The Lord Stood With Me”

Paul the Apostle

Near the end of his second letter to Timothy, Paul spoke of his experience in making a defense of the truth. He warned Timothy – and us as well – what to be prepared for and reminded him of the importance of keeping his trust in the Lord.

At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:16-18).

Let us notice briefly some lessons we can learn from Paul in this passage.

“At My First Defense”

In calling this his “first” defense, Paul implied that there were others. We must be careful that, after speaking out in defense of the truth on one occasion, we do not justify being silent on other occasions because we have already taken our stand. Peter said we must “always [be] ready to make a defense” (1 Peter 3:15). Once we take a stand, we must prepare for the next opportunity to take a stand. Our stand for the truth must be ongoing – something we are “always” ready and willing to do.

“No One Supported Me, But All Deserted Me”

When we stand for the truth, we may need to stand alone because others might not be willing to stand with us. While this can be discouraging, we must have the conviction and courage necessary to overcome such discouragement. Though Peter would deny the Lord after His arrest, the apostle’s initial determination was commendable. After Jesus told His disciples that they would be scattered from Him that night, Peter said, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away” (Matthew 26:33). We need to take this determination of Peter, learn from his mistake later that night, and stand for the Lord even when we must stand alone.

“May It Not Be Counted Against Them”

Even though Paul was forsaken and forced to make his stand without the support of his brethren, he was willing to forgive. This is the attitude commended to us by the Lord: “If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4). Our refusal to forgive a penitent brother could be destructive to his soul, causing him to be “overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (2 Corinthians 2:7). Though our brethren may sometimes discourage, injure, or forsake us, we must be willing to forgive as Paul was.

“But the Lord Stood With Me and Strengthened Me”

Though his brethren forsook Paul, he knew that the Lord never did. The same is true for us. The Hebrew writer encouraged his readers of this: “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6). Because our Lord is faithful, we can handle the challenges, hardships, and temptations of life. Paul told the brethren in Philippi, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

“The Lord Will Rescue Me From Every Evil Deed, and Will Bring Me Safely to His Heavenly Kingdom”

In writing about the deliverance of the righteous and the judgment against the wicked, Peter said, “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly” (2 Peter 2:9). We will face hardships and persecution for our faith (2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12), yet we will be delivered. And though we may not be saved from death, we will be saved through and after death (cf. Revelation 2:10).

Remember that our goal is heaven. Even if we must die, the Lord will save us. Paul made this point a few verses before our text: “For I am already being poured our as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). No matter what we must face in this life, the Lord will not forsake us. Let us never forsake Him.


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Comments

  1. Wayne D. Teel says

    This is a very encouraging post. Even though Paul was not supported at his first defense of the gospel, he never gave up and that is such a positive lesson for us today. The Lord is our helper also and how comforting that is to know.