“On my way to the province of Macedonia, I advised you to stay in Ephesus. Well, I haven’t changed my mind. Stay right there on top of things so that the teaching stays on track. Apparently some people have been introducing fantasy stories and fanciful family trees that digress into silliness instead of pulling the people back into the center, deepening faith and obedience.

The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love—love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God. Those who fail to keep to this point soon wander off into cul-de-sacs of gossip. They set themselves up as experts on religious issues, but haven’t the remotest idea of what they’re holding forth with such imposing eloquence.” 1 Timothy 1:3-7 (MSG)




When Paul was writing this letter to Timothy, he encouraged him to stay in Ephesus. There were people within the community that were distorting the gospel message. The false teachers were trying to persuade the people to believe a different message than Paul had originally shared. Timothy, who was leading the people in Ephesus, was charged with this responsibility of staying. Paul knew that it wouldn’t be easy; there would be opposition and difficulty. Timothy would have to speak out against the false doctrine that was proliferating. In midst of all this turmoil, Timothy could have decided to throw his hands up and leave. It is likely that he would have rather been with Paul to encourage him or reaching people who were open to the message. He could have packed his bags and gone anywhere. Paul knew the challenges that were present, yet he also knew that there was great value in Timothy staying planted in Ephesus. Timothy was to fight the good fight of faith at the place where he was planted.


In our lives, we might not be facing false teachers, but we may be facing really difficult situations in our family, finances, or work environments. When we look at all the factors, the first inclination is usually to figure out how to get out of the situation. While this may be the answer for some things, other times God is asking us to stay and tend to the soil where we have been planted. Staying instead of going can be challenging. It requires us to persevere in the midst of difficulty; it can test our faith. It forces us to process our faith and cling to God. Yet, when God asks us to stay, it is our opportunity to dig deep and learn the lessons God is teaching, as well as be a light to those around us. If Timothy had not stayed, he would not have reaped the reward of victory that was forthcoming. We too have to learn to stay until God releases us to go elsewhere. When we cultivate relationships and invest into our families and communities, we have the opportunity to see how God is working over a period of time. Instead of looking for the instantaneous change, it requires us to see God’s graciousness in a new way. If God is asking you to stay, don’t short circuit His working in your life and those around you by leaving prematurely. Be willing to follow God, even if it means staying right where you are at today.

 Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002.  Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. 


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About Hona Amer

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