He Guards, We Guard
I Timothy 6:20a O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust…. (ESV)
II Timothy 1:12-14 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…. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. (ESV)
Paul here is writing to his Timothy, his disciple and son in the faith. He is writing about holding onto the sound doctrine imparted to him by Paul, now endangered by false teachers bringing in an early version of what would become the gnostic heresy.
There is a beautiful tension in the words Paul writes. On one hand, he expresses his full confidence that God will guard what was entrusted to him right through to the day of the Second Coming. Paul knows His God, and is completely certain of His ability to keep His people and the truths of the gospel.
At the same time, Paul charges Timothy with guarding the same things. In I Timothy 6, we can hear the cry of Paul’s heart: “O Timothy!”, indicating a personal and heartfelt cry from one who loves his spiritual son and is deeply concerned about the issue at hand.
Where those two perspectives meet is in II Timothy 2:14: “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit….” God’s power will enable Timothy to keep the godly deposit safe. But even with using God’s power to do it, it’s still Timothy’s responsibility here.
There is no contradiction here. There are simply two truths that are both true at the same time: God will guard what was committed to Timothy, and it is up to Timothy to guard it too, all the while using the power of the Holy Spirit. The seeming contradiction doesn’t resolve itself in human logic; it resolves itself in the God whose ways are above ours, and whose thoughts are above ours too.
Like Paul, we can rest that God is well able to guard those things entrusted to us, and it is His desire to do so. And He does. It is also up to us to guard those same things, using the power of His Spirit. Within God’s greater power to guard, we join Him in guarding, too. His ability and power takes nothing away from our duty to guard these things. And our call to guard these things is not an action outside of Christ, something we do independently or in our own strength.
Jesus said, “…the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19). This is a reflection of that same principle. It’s not a matter of either-or. It’s what we do with Him and in Him. Our minds might have trouble with that, but our spirits understand.
Prayer: Lord, let me be more like Jesus in looking to what You do, and doing what I’m called to do with You. And help me to be diligent to guard what You’ve deposited in me as I thank You for guarding it as well.