“Never give up, never give in.” This could have been the motto of Paul’s life. Quit simply wasn’t in the man’s vocabulary. We ought to erase it from ours as well. And we can if we’ll hear and heed Paul’s last words to his friend, Timothy.
Paul wrote to Timothy without panic and with purpose. The days were depraved and dangerous, and Timothy needed to read Paul’s never-to-be-forgotten final charge in order to complete his ministry. Pastors today who carry on the ministry, regardless of age, location, or culture, need to hear and heed that same timely and timeless charge.
Paul didn’t think life ridiculous or irrational—even with his head on the axeman’s block. In one of the finest epitaphs found in literature, Paul celebrated life, without reservation, remorse, or regret.
Leadership isn’t for the faint of heart—not because it’s so demanding (though it is) but because it’s so isolating. This was true of Paul. All his life, he was engaged in the nitty-gritty of ministry. But sitting in a dark dungeon awaiting death, loneliness crept into his lap and refused to leave. So Paul took his pen and wrote his friend.
A grace-filled death only comes about after a grace-filled life. Like few others, Paul lived with grace and died with grace—grace to the very end.