Paul tells Timothy, “I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience” (2 Timothy 1:3). How necessary to have such a conscience. How shattered his conscience must have been after his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. As soon as he could he was baptised to wash away his sins and then he was preaching in the synagogue, that Jesus really was the Messiah. Subsequently Paul told the Galatians, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith …” (Galatians 2:20). Then he told them he was “in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you” (4:19).

His second letter to Timothy beging, “To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy and peace from God the father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (verse 2). This is his familiar way of greeting his readers. Where would we be without this “grace” (linked with the mercy of God) creating a peace in our hearts? We would be nowhere!

Think of the occasion when Jesus was in a Pharisee’s house (Luke 7:36-49) and “a woman of the city” came “weeping” and washed his feet with her hair. The Pharisee did not at all approve, but Jesus said, “I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much”. He tells her, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace”. Paul, who had been a Pharisee could relate to the state of mind of that woman.

Compare this with ourselves. The challenge for us when our conscience seems reasonably OK, is to create the impetus to make a commitment to Christ. When it is not strong, it does not make its presence felt in our lives, as happened with Paul. Our chapter indicates that Paul had been involved in Timothy’s conversion. Paul says “I remember your tears” (verse 4). We are told nothing of Timothy’s father, but he was blessed with a mother and grandmother’s influence and their example of sincere faith (verse 5).

What kind of faith dwells in us? Has it been made strong by the challenges it faces? Or has it no yet been properly exercised to create “a clear conscience”? Or maybe you are keeping your “conscience” in a side room, just for a while? Sadly such side rooms tend to become permanent abodes of a conscience until it is too late! The last 2 chapters of the Old Testament are particularly challenging to those who admit to themselves they have this problem.