How Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary
Acts 16:1-2, “Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek, and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium.”
Character. It’s hard to find these days. Even harder to develop. In a time of moral ambiguity and unbridled compromise, true Biblical character has become an increasingly precious and rare commodity. Sure, we are surrounded by people who are “characters.” No doubt about that. Our media driven culture thrives on such people. The most popular TV shows are filled with people whose lives and values are a train wreck. But in reality there are few people who have and demonstrate real character.
Hanging on my office wall at work is a poster from the HBO 10-part miniseries, “Band Of Brothers.” This award winning series is based on the true story of the men of Easy Company and the incredible role they played in WWII. Although I really enjoyed the series (one of my absolute favorites), the poster hangs in my office because of the slogan that appears at the top of the poster. It reads, “There was a time when the world asked ordinary men to do extraordinary things.” On an almost daily basis I look at the poster and I am reminded that character counts. Ideas like courage, sacrifice, loyalty and commitment are not outdated. They are not irrelevant. In fact, given the current cultural climate they are more valuable than ever before. Our world and the church today desperately need ordinary men who will do extraordinary things. Men just like Timothy. What made this seemingly ordinary young man so extraordinary?
Timothy was a disciple. A disciple was committed to learning. In fact, a very literal translation of the word is “I learn.” Timothy was neither causal, contented, nor compromised in his convictions. Rather, he was a man who was deeply committed to his faith. More than a simple “hearer only,” he was a “doer.” His faith was active, practical, and expressed in daily living. His faith was real and he really lived out his faith.
Timothy had overcome obstacles. The Bible tells us that his mother was a Jewish believer (i.e. Messianic Jew). His father was a Greek (i.e. non-believing Gentile). Talk about two completely different religious approaches to life! It’s hard to imagine a more mixed-up home environment with regard to the issues of faith. And yet, Timothy was still a man of Christian conviction and character. He had not allowed his upbringing to become an excuse. What so many others treat as an obstacle he had used as an opportunity. He had overcome the influence and impact of his father’s unbelief and pagan practices. Instead of making excuses he had made the choice to not allow his past to limit his future.
Timothy had a good reputation. Other people thought and spoke well of him. Reputation is important. As His children we should be concerned with the influence and appearance that we project. I’m not saying we should be hypocritical or fake. But neither should we try to become and look so much like the world that others are shocked to hear we are believers! Ultimately, our reputation is a reflection on the God we claim to love and serve. Many times other people will base their opinions of God upon our actions and attitudes. Timothy understood that his life was not lived in isolation. What other people thought of him mattered. A good reputation is something worth pursuing.
The world tends to define extraordinary in terms of accomplishment. Extraordinary is a goal reached, a record broken, a title achieved, or a milestone surpassed. Bottom line? For the world it is something done. But what they fail to understand is that extraordinary is something we “are” long before it ever becomes something we “do.”
With regard to the big picture Timothy had not yet done anything. To the world he was just another ordinary man. But in the eyes of God he was anything but ordinary. Timothy was extraordinary. Not because of what he had accomplished but because of the character that God had shaped within him. Remember that truth the next time you find yourself wrestling with feelings of “being ordinary.” Maybe you have never preached to millions like Billy Graham. Maybe you have never written a best-selling book like Max Lucado. Maybe you have never led thousands in worship like Michael W. Smith. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t extraordinary. In a time when truth has been compromised and morality has become a word of disdain, the one who holds fast to godly character and Biblical convictions is truly extraordinary!