But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it. (2 Tim. 3:14)

THIS SECOND LETTER of Paul to his disciple and coworker Timothy was written toward the end of Paul’s life. This is not like the first letter written to encourage the young, timid believer starting out on the road of service. Rather, this is the final charge to a man of God who had been at the work for some time. Timothy was no novice here, and we will do well to remember that the number of years we have served the Lord will not be for us a source of momentum carrying us effortlessly across the finish line.

Like Timothy, we must continue in what we have learned and become convinced of, at times even remembering examples in our lives when we were more fervent in our love and service. In fact, some years later it is to the very church where Paul and Timothy served so faithfully that Jesus sent His rebuke, “You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen!” (Rev. 2:4–5). There is perhaps no other church that could boast of such an exemplary leadership legacy as the church at Ephesus. And yet, failing to continue in that example brought the startling rebuke from the Lord. But thank the Lord that He provided a gracious way forward: “Repent and do the things you did at first.”

Determine whether you need to go back and do like you did first.

Bill Beck lives in the Black Hills with his wife, daughter, and dog. He and his wife have two grown sons.