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Pass It On

The relay race is a team event. It requires a commitment, not only to individual effort, but also to the overall strategy of the team. The passing of the baton from one runner to another should be smoothly and efficiently done, with as little loss of rhythm and momentum as possible. Brilliant individualists, who cannot discipline themselves to the necessary mental and physical adjustment, would ruin the effectiveness of a relay team. To pass the baton efficiently, anticipation and mutual consideration are necessary. In a smooth changeover, the athletes run together for a time, and no doubt a word of encouragement often passes between them.

The apostle Paul knew that the continuance of the Churches of God, many of which he was instrumental in planting, depended upon the transfer from one generation to the next of a full commitment to "the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). This was one reason why he often chose younger men to be his fellow-workers. Paul and Timothy laboured together to carry out the terms of the "great commission". Because Paul and Timothy were of one mind in their desire and showed mutual consideration, the 'generation gap' was no hindrance to a close working partnership.

In the imagery of the relay race, they ran together, each with his hand on the baton. Paul exhorted Timothy, "The things which thou hast heard from me... commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2).

Paul's forward vision took in three or four generations; he looked for continuity. But somewhere along the line there was unfaithfulness; some failed to pass on the sound teaching; the baton was lost. They will be accountable for this. Let us see to it that history does not repeat itself!