Thankfulness is often for that which benefits us. We are thankful for homes, jobs, food, family, Jesus. Paul is thankful for Timothy.
Paul’s simple gratefulness for Timothy’s enduring faith is plain to see. Paul does view Timothy as a son, but not as the biological son of a father, but more of the ultimate disciple. Timothy, it seems, represents the ultimate expression and thus inheritor of Paul and Paul’s legacy.
In modern terms, we might use the term mentor or coach. Except on rare occasions, however, neither mentor nor coach adequately explains Paul’s feelings for Timothy.
It is unusual for us to be thankful for those like Timothy in our lives. Some teachers are truly grateful for a few of their students (often outweighed by the others). By and large, though, people who “bring up” others are often only grateful or thankful if those who were “brought up” bring them credit, honor, or glory.
However, often what we don’t realize is how much we learn about ourselves and our knowledge when we “bring up” others. For many years, apprenticeship was the way a person learned. The “master” would be challenged by the apprentice as the apprentice would seek to exceed the master.
In a discipleship relationship, the “elder” will often learn as much as the “young”. If the “elder” is not learning and changing, too, then discipleship has become a system and not the Way of Life. This is how one becomes grateful for those “bought up”, for one learns that with them, one would not have grown as well.
Do you have a person that “walked” alongside you as an “elder”? Do you have someone you are walking alongside?
Lord, help us be grateful for those you have brought to us, and make us mindful of the mission you have for us. Amen.