Today’s Passage: 2 Timothy 4:12-13

At my previous job, I had the opportunity to go to a great workshop on wellness. Perhaps I have mentioned it on this blog before. It was a short one or two hour workshop that could have easily been a weekend or week long retreat. The workshop facilitator challenged us to think about the idea of wellness on seven dimensions, and since attending, I have learned that some who studied wellness break it up into even more areas (financial wellness, for example, is important but missing from this list). WellnessFor the sake of this reflection, I am sticking to the seven she discussed (more information about these can be found here but I’ll summarize below):

  • Emotional Wellness (how we process and perform our feelings)
  • Environmental Wellness (how we perceive responsibility for and positive connection to the external world)
  • Intellectual Wellness (how we develop and stimulate our minds)
  • Occupational Wellness (how well our jobs work for us rather than us just working for a job)
  • Physical Wellness (how we make healthy choices for our body)
  • Social Wellness (how we grow and cultivate our relationships)
  • Spiritual Wellness (how we connect with who we are a soul level and find purpose and peace)

The takeaway for me from that initial workshop was that when one of these is out of balance/out of whack, it begins to affect the other areas.

“I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.” (2 Tim. 4:12-13)

When I got to this passage in 2 Timothy, I had to ask, myself, why in the world did Paul ask for a cloak and some scrolls, oh yeah, and especially the parchments?? Was it simply a practical request for his prison conditions or was there some “deeper” meaning I needed to see between the lines? I found that the word “cloak,” according to Strong’s translation of the Greek, indicates that this was a reference to an outer garment used for stormy weather. The Matthew Henry commentary discusses this as well as the scrolls and parchments, stating:

… the cloak he had left there, which, it may be, Paul had the more occasion for in a cold prison. It is probable that it was the habit Paul usually wore, a plain dress. Some read it, the roll of parchment I left at Troas; others, the desk that I left. Paul was guided by divine inspiration, and yet he would have his books with him. Whereas he had exhorted Timothy to give attendance to reading, so he did himself, though he was now ready to be offered. As long as we live, we must be still learning. But especially the parchments, which some think were the originals of his epistles; others think they were the skins of which he made his tents, whereby he obtained a livelihood, working with his own hands. (qtd. from Blue Letter Bible)

What ever the “real” reasons may have been for his requests, Paul was led to include them in these letters. Perhaps it was for us to be reminded of his humanity on this faith journey. And perhaps it was to place some importance on highlighting that we should be diligent in making sure we are well, no matter the circumstances we are facing in our faith. If we are completely well (as much as wellness is determined by our actions—I recognize ultimate control belongs to God and many things are outside of our hands), we are in a better position to be ready and act immediately on the things the Lord calls us to.

So I took some time to think through the areas of wellness and pair them up with a Biblical perspective.

  • Am I emotionally well? If I am not processing my emotions productively, I will be easily distracted and moved by the whims of my heart rather than the Spirit. The Bible has a clear prescription: “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
  • Am I environmentally well? My thoughts on this topic expanded when I simply searched the Bible for the word “earth”! I think much like money, this is one of those Biblical topics that we do not discuss as much as we should because the heavens and the earth are all over the Bible! The truth is clear–“The earth is the Lord ‘s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers” (Psalms 24:1-2).  Therefore, part of my wellness is linked to my stewardship and respect for God’s creation—not to the point of idolatry—but with an understanding that it is a part of what He has made me to do. If I am not living well on this earth, then my faith journey will likely feel the effects of that imbalance.
  • Am I intellectually well? Paul’s attention to scrolls and parchments leaves room for us to think about our intellectual growth in the faith. Just remember: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).  There is a lot of junk out here we can stimulate our minds with too, and we must be sensitive to that.
  • Am I occupationally well? I think it was this year that I read Proverbs 31 in The Message version for the first time. Part of that translation writes: “…She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden. First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.” Finding good work is good for us and good for our testimony as well!
  • Am I physically well? This can be a tough question to face up with for me. When my world gets rocky, I may cling to God, but I often let go of making healthy choices. This in turn impacts my faith because after a while, I am dragging—too tired to tarry a bit longer to pray or read or get up early. I have to constantly remind myself of 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
  • Am I socially well? People are such a rich part of Paul’s letter to Timothy. All throughout we are reminded of relationships—healthy ones and unhealthy ones. Consistent evaluation of my relationships with others is good work for making sure I am loving in a way that reflects Christ and surrounding myself with those who would encourage me on in the faith. Think about this verse: “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10).
  • Am I spiritually well? But of course, the center of all of my wellness is Him. If God is my center, I am satisfied, and it is so much easier to take care of the other areas of my life. Paul is a prime example of wellness not because he asked for books and a cloak in one verse, but because he consistently demonstrated in all of his writings that his first and most important wellness check was with his God.
    “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things” (Psalms 107:9).

Are you well, my friend?

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