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Proper 22

Lamentations 1.1–6
2 Timothy 1.1–14
Luke 17.5–10

Paul, in prison, writes about power. Dangerous stuff, we say – tends to corrupt, and all that. Paul’s setting, and the work that got him there, guards him from misunderstanding. Tyrants speak of God’s power to validate their own; Paul speaks lovingly about God’s power to explain why he remains in chains.

God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, he says, but a spirit of power, love and self-control – 1 Corinthians 12, 13 and 14 in a nutshell. Timothy needs reminding that he has a God-given ministry and must not be timid about exercising it. He is not in danger of enjoying God’s power too much: rather the reverse. He needs to know that God delights to exercise his power through Christian ministry. But the power of the true God is never mere power; precisely because it is revealed in Jesus Christ, it is always also the power of love, and to be exercised through and in self-control (the word here means ‘moderation’ or ‘prudence’ as well as ‘self-discipline’)...

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