|Today’s reading is drawn from 2 Timothy 1:10-11.
Paul was proud of his ethnic heritage, openly embracing his Jewish background and connection to his “forefathers,” people of faith such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and David.
At first this seems to contradict Paul’s earlier words when he called that same background a “loss” and “rubbish” compared to the richness of knowing Christ (Phil. 3:4–8). At times he did harshly criticize his culture, but only at the points where it fostered self-righteous pride, exclusive attitudes, and belief in salvation through keeping rules rather than by faith in Christ. In reality Paul had a healthy perspective of his roots. He valued the positive aspects of his heritage while rejecting its negative sides.
This outlook might have made Paul particularly effective as a “teacher of the Gentiles” (2 Tim. 1:11), a remarkable calling given his training as a Pharisee. As God helped Paul reassess his own ethnicity, He also transformed his disdain for non-Jews. Once Paul understood his own identity, he no longer felt threatened by people of other cultures.
Paul had much to offer Timothy, who came from a mixed background of Jew and Gentile (Acts 16:1–3). He also helps us understand our own backgrounds and the spirit of acceptance we should adopt as members of a diverse culture where racial and ethnic tensions run high.
More: God never asks us to reject our roots. No matter how our culture regards our heritage, we can affirm it as a gift from Him.