IN AND OUT OF SEASON
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.
‘We’ve a story to tell to the nations, that shall turn their hearts to the right.’1
In his closing message to Timothy, Paul stresses the importance of preaching the gospel so that the Christian faith would spread throughout the world. That is as important today as then and we should be ready to share the good news in our offices, schools, neighborhoods, and in the marketplace. This is by both words and deeds – so that, as Jesus said, people may ‘see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’2 Our honesty and integrity, our confidence in God at times of persecution and trouble, are a clear witness for Christ – and people ask questions. As Christian teams began to work in the Andhra floods in the 1970s, people asked, ‘Why are you doing this?’ And so, the gospel could be preached.
Paul goes further and emphasizes preaching at all times. If you examine verse 2 carefully you will note it is not only speaking of evangelism but of teaching to ‘correct, rebuke and encourage … with … careful instruction.’ This means we must always be ready to serve God in any situation, whether it is convenient or not. It is easy to spend time carefully preparing a sermon and delivering it from the pulpit, but unrehearsed preaching on the spot is very different. When I traveled around India on TAFTEE ministry I was often asked unexpectedly to preach, so I carried a few sermons in the back of my Bible. This was part of my covenant with God that I would never refuse a preaching invitation.
Paul’s final testimony is here: ‘For I am already being poured out as a drink offering’ (v 6). This presents a picture of a drink offering poured on the lamb of sacrifice just before it was burned on the altar.3 He is conscious that his fate is sealed for the sake of the gospel.
We can be prepared to preach for the Lord in season and out of season.
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.
1 H Ernest Nichol, 1862–1926 2 Matt 5:16 3 Num 28:1–8
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