STAY ON TRACK
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the gospel and for the privilege that is mine to share it with others. And thank you for giving me all that I need to lead others to you.
Read 2 TIMOTHY 4:1-8
4 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow focused are you on completing God’s work and preparing others to be ready for its challenge?
There’s both confidence and poignancy in the way Paul speaks to Timothy in verses 6-8. Tom Wright comments that ‘Paul lived his life with the clock ticking in the background’*—and it’s clear that he thinks his life on earth will come to an end before long. He uses two of his previous analogies—those of soldier and athlete (v 7)—to describe how fully he has followed Jesus since he met him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19). He is confident that the Lord will reward him for his faithful service (v 8).
Because of this and because judgment is coming (v 1), he charges Timothy with the words in verse 2 (one could write several sermons just on that one verse!). He wants to be sure that Timothy will continue with the work for which Paul has trained and mentored him. It’s almost a passing on of the mantle, such as with Elijah to Elisha (2 Kings 2:1-18). Timothy needs to be ready for the challenge of those who only want to hear doctrine that suits them and to stay focused on the work to which he is called (v 5).
Substituting whatever God has called you to, if not ‘evangelist,’ how would you pray verse 5 for yourself?
Great lover of my soul, I pray that the good news of Jesus will characterize and shine through all of the work to which you have called and prepared me to do.
*Tom Wright, Paul for Everyone: The Pastoral Letters (SPCK Publishing, 2003).
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