2 Timothy 4:13 – When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments. (NIV)
A few months ago, I read a thought-provoking sermon based on today's Scripture by the famous nineteenth-century preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The sermon outlined several important lessons that we can learn from this verse. I was amazed how an insignificant item like Paul's cloak inspired such a great message. In particular, what struck me the most was Spurgeon's description of Paul's affluent background compared to the loss that he later suffered in following Christ. Now, nearing the end of his life in a Roman prison, he had no cloak of his own.
Consequently, Paul asked Timothy to return the cloak he had given to a certain disciple named Carpus. Interestingly, Spurgeon pointed out that Timothy was about six hundred miles away from Rome. Therefore, he raised the following questions: Could not any of the Christians in Caesar's household have found a cloak for the apostle? Did anyone ever visit him? Did the church not know where he was? Was he forgotten by his friends?
I suppose that many Christians during that time were afraid to show their faces around the prison for fear that they, too, would be seized by Roman officials. However, Spurgeon also mentioned that ten years earlier, when Paul was led down the Appian Way in chains, a number of believers were there to escort him. So then, what went wrong? Why was Paul left without a cloak? Yet, even if Paul had been abandoned by his church friends, one thing we know for sure — he was never abandoned by God.
Paul's cloak reminds me of those Christians in the world today who are still being persecuted for their faith: some may be feeling isolated and forgotten. How can we reach out to those imprisoned or facing death for the sake of Christ? Paul's cloak may also be a reminder of someone in our church or community who has a specific need. In that case, we must ask ourselves: Have we been too busy with our own lives to notice? Then, how can we as a church, or as individuals, address these problems and offer our support?
Prayer: Dear Lord, forgive us for the times when we have kept our distance or failed to offer assistance to our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in need. Give us a generous spirit to share freely the blessings and gifts that You have provided for us. In Jesus' holy name, we pray. Amen.
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