MINE! Often these are the first words that are formed out of a young child’s mouth when they are learning to speak. We all remember hearing or being told to “SHARE!” Funny how we are selfish with everything but our faith. All too often we are content to borrow someone else’s, like our parents, siblings or friend and not make our faith our own. Let me just state before I get too far that making your faith your own and being selfish with it doesn’t mean you don’t share it. Actually until you make something your own you can’t technically share it; you can pass along what you have been told and what you have overheard other people talking about, but it’s not your faith, your convictions or your beliefs that you have struggled to come to terms with that you’re sharing.
One person in the Bible stood out as having made his faith his own and that was Timothy, Paul’s protégé, if you will. We see in 2 Timothy that his grandmother and mother had a strong faith that had influenced Timothy. Later on, being Paul’s assistant and protégé offered him plenty of faith to borrow from. But in both of these instances, Timothy didn’t just borrow from his mentors. In 2 Timothy 1:5 Paul says, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” We see first that the faith of his family wasn’t enough for salvation. Paul talks about how the faith within Timothy, which was also in his grandmother and mother, was now in him; clearly Timothy had his own personal walk with God.
It is natural to learn and lean on the faith of others as you grow in Christ, but there comes a point where the rubber meets the road and you have to step out on your own and take your faith for a drive in order to learn what it truly means to you. We see this as Paul mentions the faith that “dwelt first in” Timothy’s grandmother and mother was now dwelling in Timothy. I’m sure, Timothy used their example and the influence of their faith in his life to grow, but at some point he found out for himself what is was to walk with God and how that should be lived out in his own life.
It’s kind of like when I learned how to drive a stick shift for the first time. I could sit there in the passenger seat and watch my dad drive the car for hours on end, but it wouldn’t be until I got into the driver’s seat, made my own mistakes and got a feel for the clutch and gears, that I really learned how to drive a stick shift. Faith needs to be experienced, not just watched. You are going to make mistakes—trust me I still do—but that is all part of living out your faith and finding out for yourself what God’s word is truly saying and seeing how He wants you to live out your life in Christ. And when you dive in and make your faith your own, you move from being dependant on others for a “good” example to a reliance on Christ for the “best” example, where His strength and wisdom leads us to live a life of faith.
Relying on ourselves can be draining. 2 Timothy 1:6-7 talks about how you need to have “kindled afresh the gift of God which is in you…For God has not given you a spirit of timidity but of power and love and discipline.” So, guess what? God has given you everything you need to live a life following Him. Through His Holy Spirit you have all it takes to follow after Christ. And face it—you’re not going to do it perfectly. But all the tools are there and it’s only when you choose not to use them that you fall flat on your face. Fortunately, Christ is there to help us back up and give us the strength and wisdom to follow him. And remember, this is not releasing you to make poor choices just because “Christ is there to pick me back up.” Knowing that without Him it is impossible to get back up and live this Christian life in your own strength you humbly rely on Him for everything!
Finally, after making your faith your own and depending on Christ and His Word for direction in living this Christian life, we need to not be ashamed of the personal testimony He has given us. 2 Timothy 1:8-9 encourages us, “Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…but join me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted to us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.”
I was saved at a very young age, so no “sex, drugs or rock and roll” background for me. I struggled for a while with not having a “flashy” story. Eventually God showed me that my testimony was His story for me and that everyone had a different way of being drawn to Him; I should be excited about all that He has done in my life—and He has done some radical things. Any time someone is rescued from a life condemned to hell, that’s pretty radical! That’s the perspective I take anyway. God has a specific purpose and plan for your life that will be like no one else you know, because it is for you and you alone. It is His plan for you! How cool is that?!
So let me leave you with two challenges. One, seek out God’s word for yourself every day, even if it’s just ten minutes. It will be time well spent. Two, truly give some thought to what God has done in your life and even write in down. One of the most encouraging things for me is to look back on some of the journals I keep and see how God has answered prayers or how He has matured me (some entries are pretty selfish and petty). Take heart, God is not finished with you yet! He will finish the work He started in you!