Doesn’t everybody need a Yoda?
For those unfamiliar with Star Wars lore, Yoda was a small green alien, who was very wise.
Yoda spoke in backward sentences which — after you figured out what he was saying — were quite insightful.
The wrinkly little alien with the big ears became a mentor and provided some thought-provoking advice to a young Luke Skywalker.
Like Luke, I’ve had some good mentors, too.
They’ve never been green nor had big ears. Nor like Yoda did they live in a galaxy far, far away.
But they’ve been a little older — and their wisdom and extra life experiences on this planet have been invaluable to me.
We all need mentors.
Even Bible-times people had mentors — those who could share great truths and insight.
One found in the Old Testament was Elijah, a mentor to his successor, Elisha.
Elisha must have seen how greatly the Spirit of God worked in Elijah’s life — and even asked to inherit a double portion before his mentor was carried away into heaven on a whirlwind.
He got that double portion and went on to be part of some astounding miracles.
Naomi was a mentor, who counseled her widowed daughter-in-law Ruth on the appropriate way to let her next Mr. Right — Boaz — know she was interested in him.
That was after Boaz had shown an interest in Ruth and some protective compassion.
In the end, Ruth and Boaz married and became ancestors our Savior Christ Jesus.
A little good mentoring can go a long way.
Jesus provided so much mentoring to his disciples.
But besides Christ’s incredible guidance, one of the most extensive examples of mentoring can be seen in the tender letters written by the Apostle Paul to his mentee, Timothy.
These letters would become the New Testament books of 1 and 2 Timothy.
Christian tradition lists Timothy as the first bishop of Ephesus.
But Timothy must have begun as a fledgling minister, because Paul gives this gentle advice in his first letter:
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
Paul gives even more good advice.
He provides a list of qualifications for those seeking to be deacons in the church.
And he warns against anyone who’d consider godliness as means to financial gain.
“Godliness with contentment is great gain,” Paul writes, putting things into perspective. “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”
In other words, we’re not going to take our stuff with us when we die.
What’s more, Paul points how harmful it is to make wealth-gathering a major life ambition.
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“Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction,” Paul writes. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Paul’s eloquent writing seems to come full bloom in his second letter to Timothy.
By now, Paul has been abandoned by many fellow believers. Persecution of Christians is intense.
Paul encourages Timothy to be strong in the faith and to avoid godless chatter, resentment and stupid arguments.
He compares serving Christ to being like a good soldier.
“No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer,” Paul writes.
“Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.”
What does all this mean?
Paul urges Timothy — and I believe the Holy Spirit urges us — to stop and really think about what this means and what it would look like in our daily lives.
And if Timothy thinks all this might be too hard to understand, Paul reminds him that he has an ever-present helper:
“Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this,” Paul writes.
The Holy Spirit can give us insight, too. Ask him for it.
Paul’s letter continues.
He warns Timothy, and us, of times when people will be very selfish, lovers of money, abusive, ungrateful, boastful and lots of other bad things.
He admonishes Timothy to avoid such people.
At the same time, Paul encourages Timothy to continue in the good things he’s learned and reminds him that all Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching and training.
Paul urges Timothy to preach the word with great patience and careful instruction — adding that a time will come when people turn away from the truth and turn to myths.
As he writes, Paul knows his time on earth is coming to a close and I wonder if Timothy shed tears as he read some of the most beautiful words I’ve ever read.
And Paul may have sighed a heavy sigh when thinking of all he’d suffered on earth, yet treasured the expectation of heaven as he wrote:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
It doesn’t say in the Bible how Paul or Timothy died. Church tradition says Paul was beheaded and Timothy later was an old man when he was stoned to death.
Sounds so sad.
Yet the letters Paul wrote to Timothy live on and are as close to us as our Bibles. I hope to meet them both in heaven someday.
I’d like to meet the man who wrote so beautifully.
In the meantime, I encourage everyone to read these two letters and let the words soak into their souls.
Because you need not have lived during ancient times to be inspired, encouraged, instructed and guided by God’s word.
And you don’t need to go looking for a little green alien — who talks in backward sentences — to find peace.
It comes with the gentle resonance of the Holy Spirit as you read and consider words our God inspired in a galaxy that’s not far away at all.