Their stricken faces said it all. The men and women of the U.S. Olympic 400-meter relay teams were disqualified and in disbelief.
The U.S. had owned the 400 relay in years past. Now, in 2008, the teams hadn’t even qualified.
In just a thirty-minute span, both teams’ hopes were dashed at the fumbling of the third and final baton handoff. When you’re running a relay, the handoff is critical. Runners take extra care to ensure a smooth handoff because when they drop the baton, they don’t finish the race.
Christians have an even more important handoff to make: passing the gospel on to the next generation. Paul, arguably the most skilled believer aside from Christ to ever hand off the gospel, once instructed his young protégé Timothy in how to pass it on well, saying, “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).
Paul is challenging Timothy to pass on what he has heard to faithful men and women who also are able to pass it on. What has Timothy heard from Paul? The gospel. The truth of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
By this time in their relationship, Timothy would have seen Paul testify to this gospel hundreds of times. He also would have seen Paul pass it on hundreds of times. Paul understood the gospel does the next generation no good if it never receives it. The gospel is like a relay race; we’re either fumbling the handoff or ensuring it’s passed on with care.
In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul summarizes his most critical advice for passing on the gospel in three principles.