“O Timothy, GUARD the deposit entrusted to you.” – 1 Timothy 6:20, emphasis mine
“But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to GUARD until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, GUARD the good deposit entrusted to you.” – 2 Timothy 1:12-14, emphasis mine.
Paul closes his first letter to Timothy, and then quickly opens his second with this same command. “Guard what God has entrusted to you.” Now, I think this is an interesting dynamic in who wrote this letter to whom when it comes to application. Paul the Apostle wrote this to Pastor Timothy, so this could very easily be taken as a command to protect the ministry God had given the young man (and I believe that is a part of this). However, we also have Paul expressly telling Timothy to put what he learns in front of the brothers; to lead others in the Christian life by his example, and to take what he is taught and to teach others who can continue to teach others down the line (1Timothy 4:6, 11-12; 2 Timothy 2:2).
We must therefore assume that Paul expects Timothy as a Pastor to be teaching his flock to guard what God has entrusted to each of them as well. In thinking about what this means, I believe that what God has entrusted us that we must guard are things like our freedom from sin and ability to pursue holiness; being given the right to enter God’s throne room and build a strong relationship with Him, and the ability to see the fruit of the Spirit working in our lives (see Galatians 5:19-24).
Why do we need to guard these things?
The reality is that until “that Day” comes, and Jesus returns to finally, fully set up His Kingdom on earth, we live in a dark world that wants to rob from us every benefit and fruit that comes from the Gospel in our lives. The enemy will attack us on the inside by playing on our emotions and fears and by continually trying to lead us into temptation. At the same time, the world will attack us from the outside by calling us fools, mocking us, persecuting us, and making all kinds of threats and political accusations. Jesus told us to expect these things, and to be prepared to stand against them.
This is the same call Paul is making when he tells us to “guard” the gospel’s work in our lives. This is a command for us to daily do battle against the flesh, putting to death our wicked desires and pursuits of self-glorification. This is a call to engage against the attacks of the devil by devoting ourselves to cultivating a relationship with God, through the Holy Spirit, in worship and prayer.
God has entrusted us with so many benefits through the Gospel that the world and the enemy want to rob from us. This knowledge must lead us into the spiritual battle. We can’t just sit back and say, “God is in control. Whatever happens happens.” Jesus has made us stewards of the Kingdom on earth today as the Spirit lives in us, and we must stand firm against any threats to that Kingdom as one who will give an account.
I encourage you today to take stock of all the wonderful benefits the gospel offers and the fruit is has born in your life. Then I challenge you with the Apostle Paul, build up your defenses, relying on the Holy Spirit, and guard those things. Anything else is temporary. This is the one thing that matters. Don’t give them up without a fight.