I think I can speak for many young men when I say that as a young boy, one of my favorite movies was Karate Kid. My boyish instincts loved seeing the underdog fight his way to the top under the direction of a great mentor, Mr. Miyagi. Everyone can relate to Danny as a boy. Every boy wants to fight and win. Danny was the soft-spoken boy that we all pictured ourselves as being. Under Mr. Miyagi’s direction, Danny learned much about Karate, but even more about life. In a fight with an opposing trainer, Miyagi teaches Danny both at once. Miyagi defeated the trainer with a move called the ‘drum technique’ and used this to put himself in a position to deliver a fatal blow to his opponent. Rather than deal a fatal blow, Miyagi breaks his nose and embarrasses the trainer. Danny would later go on to use this same technique and finishing move to defeat an opponent who had threatened to kill his girlfriend as well as himself. Danny had gone from a boy to a man under Mr. Miyagi’s direction in one of the most adored movie series of my childhood.
After Jesus’ death, the apostles began training up new young men to spread the message of Christ. The apostle Paul found great promise in a young man named Timothy. When Paul and Timothy met, Timothy was young (some scholars believe as young as early teens). Timothy was a reserved, soft-spoken young man. Nevertheless, Paul put him in charge of checking on the Corinthians when they wandered from the faith. This reserved man first met Paul in Lystra, a city that Paul and Barnabas visited in their first journey. Timothy was aware of the dangers of following Christ, as he saw Paul stoned and left for dead. This didn’t stop him from pressing on to honor God as his name suggests. Timothy also was struck with ailments throughout his life. Despite having every reason to enjoy a role of comfort at his local church in which he was heavily involved, he knew that he was called by God to be something greater and was ordained. Paul was unique amongst the apostles in that he was reaching the Gentiles not through Judaism, but rather with the Gospel of Christ. Timothy was Jewish, but was mentored by Paul to preach the Gospel. Despite all that he had going against him, this young man grew to be a very respected man of Christ by placing his faith in Christ. He could’ve quit for a number of reasons, but he knew that he would not live a fulfilling life outside of the life that pursued and spread the Gospel. Timothy is a very relatable man that chose not to focus on his weaknesses, but Christ’s strength.
1. Timothy made no excuses.
I can find an excuse for just about anything. If I’m hungry and don’t want to get out of my chair to get something to eat, I can make the excuse that I don’t need the extra calories anyway (that literally is happening right now). Timothy was a bit socially awkward and was ill for a large part of his life. Traveling while ill is rough on anyone, but Timothy traveled ill on foot. His social anxiety was overcome because of his faith in Christ. He sucked it up and did what he knew he was called to do because he thought so little of himself and so much of Christ.
2. Timothy cared about people
It’s difficult to be a man (or woman) of Christ and not care for people. If you don’t have a passion for people, you can’t have a passion for Christ. Timothy cared greatly for people, and that’s why Paul was so fond of him. Paul writes in Phillippians 2:19-21, “If the Lord Jesus is willing, I hope to send Timothy to you soon. Then when he comes back, he can cheer me up by telling me how you are getting along. I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ.” Timothy’s passion for people is one of the key reasons why Paul thinks so highly of him, and is what makes Timothy such a great disciple.
3. Timothy preached the Gospel
At face value, this seems almost insignificant. I mean, didn’t everyone preach the Gospel during this time? Wasn’t that the whole point in doing this line of work? Yes and no. When Paul and Timothy meet in Acts 16, we see that Timothy was a Jew. This is an important distinction to make. During this time, the other apostles and missionaries were reaching people by preaching based on Jewish teachings. They were not so much preaching the Gospel as they were preaching Judaism. Paul was the first to forgo this approach and preach the Gospel. This is important because, once Paul and Barnabas separate, Barnabas was not mentioned again in the book of Acts. Barnabas was preaching Judaism with a twist, and Paul was preaching the Gospel. Timothy was successful because he followed Paul’s lead in preaching the Gospel rather than a set of laws, in which the religious leaders of the day were preoccupied. This hits home. The modern church is making a shift toward a comfortable brand of Christianity that can be considered the “Jewish Law” of our time. Leaders preach what people want to hear, not what they need to hear. There is a lesson to be learned from Timothy in this regard. Teach what is right, not what is acceptable to the masses.
4. Timothy did whatever it took to reach people
I normally only do three points, but I cannot exclude this feat from Timothy’s resumé. In Acts 16:3, we can see that Timothy would do whatever was necessary to reach people. As a man, Timothy was circumcised in order to better relate to the Jews of the area. There was no anesthesia during this time. He cut off his foreskin in order to reach people for Christ. Men will understand that this in and of itself is worthy of a standing ovation. However crazy it sounds, it worked. In Acts 16:5 we see that “…the churches were strengthened in their faith and grew daily in numbers.”
It’s no question that Timothy was one of the most important missionaries of his time. Paul is considered (arguably) the most important apostle of the time, and Timothy was Paul’s favorite. Timothy thought much of Christ and little of himself. He disregarded constant ailment and timidness in favor of serving Christ. Timothy had a passion for people that was unmatched amongst his peers. Timothy wasn’t afraid to preach the Gospel during a time when that was not the popular thing to do. He preached what he was called to preach and not what was popular to preach. This is an important point. Preaching the Gospel was not the popular thing to do even amongst his peers. This is no different in today’s largely secular world. People do not want to hear the Gospel. They would rather follow their own rule book. Sadly, the church is following the crowd and is preaching generic, diluted Christianity that makes people feel comfortable living with their own rules. We have too few Paul and Timothy’s who are willing to preach the truth despite the brand of comfort Christianity that is so popular amongst the mega churches. Because they preached what is right, they were discussed more often than the others. Timothy was a man because he stood for what was right even if it meant standing alone. He stood with Christ and was rewarded greatly. It cost him his life, but he knew that what was important could not be found in this world. He focused his eyes on what is unseen and lived with a reckless abandon. He was so dedicated that he was circumcised so that people would listen to him. Few men (myself included) are willing to make the sacrifices that Timothy made. Few men would be prepared to cut off their foreskin so that others might come to know Jesus, much less be stoned and beaten to death as Timothy was for his belief.
Just as Danny learned the drum technique from Mr. Miyagi, Timothy learned how to preach the Gospel from Paul. This timid boy grew to be a man because he placed little importance on himself and all the importance on his master. He overcame all of his struggles in a great push of courage to become one of the greatest missionaries of his time. When I was a boy I wanted to be like Danny overcoming obstacles to fight the good fight. As a man, I want to be like Timothy. We should strive to overcome these real world obstacles to fight the good fight despite what others around us are doing. There can only one Danny, but we all have the potential to be a Timothy.