Passage: 2 Timothy 1:8-18

Speaker: Mitch Kim

Series: Forming Love In A Culture Of Fear

The Shape Of Love

            What is the shape of love? Typically we see love shaped as a heart— round, squishy, and warm. But heart-shaped, squishy love easily gets disappointed by the cost of love. For Christians the shape of love is a cross— costly suffering that gives sacrificially. Yet this cost of love is often surprising! Paul is preparing Timothy for this shape of love, saying, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” ( 2 Tim 1:13). This pattern will share in suffering (2 Tim 1:8), a suffering which Paul himself modeled (1:12) so that some turned away in shame (1:15). How do we reflect this shape of love, even when it costs us suffering?  We love in the shape of a cross by the power and purpose of God, guarding the deposit we have received, even with mixed results.

            We love in the shape of a cross by the power and purpose of God (2 Tim 1:8–10).  As we testify of Jesus Christ, we will suffer, but this suffering is by the power of God (1:8). God’s power always accompanies his purposes; suffering is not proof that we are missing God’s holy calling, but God’s purpose and grace works through our suffering. This is supremely seen in Christ Jesus who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (1:10). Just as Christ’s greatest power of life was released through his death and abolishing of death, so his power flows through our suffering. Therefore we can keep loving even in the face of suffering.

            We love in the shape of a cross, guarding the deposit we have received (2 Tim 1:11–14). Repeatedly Timothy is told to guard the good deposit (2 Tim 1: 14; cf. 1 Tim 1:20). This deposit had been shared through Paul’s witness. Paul was eager that what had been entrusted to him might entrusted to Timothy and through Timothy to others (2 Tim 1:12, 14; 2:2). The best way to guard the deposit of faith that we have received from others is to give it away.

            Finally we love in the shape of a cross, even with mixed results (2 Tim 1:15–18). Timothy watched Paul’s life well, and Timothy saw how people disappointed Paul. As he faced suffering, all who are in Asia turned away from him (1:15). This is not a few people, but all who were in Asia!  How heartbreaking that must have been! Yet when we love, we don’t dwell on those who have left us; we celebrate those who refresh us. Paul releases blessing to the household of Onesiphorus, who refused to be ashamed of his suffering but instead found him in Rome and refreshed him (1:16–18). He chooses to dwell on those who refreshed him not those who disappointed him. Even when we love in the shape of a cross, people will still disappoint us. But instead of dwelling on those who have disappointed us, we should praise God for those who have refreshed us and bless them instead.

            So what?  What shape do you expect love to look like? As Christians we should know better than to expect heart-shaped love. We are called to love in the shape of a cross. Let us step into that type of love by the power and purpose of God, guarding the deposit that we have received, even with mixed results.