Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 4:1-18
One of the most famous speeches given in our time was the 1993 ESPY speech delivered by the late Jim Valvano. Diagnosed with inoperable bone cancer in 1992, Valvano and ESPN united to create the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research. Valvano understood persistence, winning against all odds, and never giving up. In 1983 he and the N.C. State Wolfpack won the NCAA basketball tournament, defeating a Houston University team with two future professional hall-of-famers, Hakeem Olajuwan and Clyde Drexler. Against all odds, Valvano believed in his team. In the ESPY speech delivered just two months prior to his death, Valvano said, “There are three things we should do each day: laugh, think and let your emotions move you to tears. Remember where you came from, where you are, and where you are going.” He ended his speech stating the motto for the V Foundation, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”
In this text the great apostle and missionary Paul saw the end of his life (v. 6ff). He knew he had fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. Like Valvano, this was a bittersweet and emotional time for him. He lamented those who had abandoned him, men such as Demas, who had put the pleasures of the world above Christ, and Alexander, the coppersmith, who had done him harm. Yes, Luke was with him, but Paul desperately wanted Timothy and the restored John Mark to join him as well. There were personal belongings that Paul wanted and needed, but even more he desired his spiritual family. Together they had traveled the world starting churches and encouraging believers, and Paul wanted them by his side when his physical journey ended.
Paul was addressing two issues: the legacy of ministry and his own fate. Paul knew his legacy would pass through the proven missionary team he had assembled. He needed them to stay on task when void of Paul’s presence. The latter issue was Paul’s own fate. He was determined to end well.