Monday April 27, 2020
I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.2 Timothy 4:1-8
For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.
But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.
This letter to Timothy was specific. Paul was looking back on a long life. He was writing to someone who would shepherd a church. It would be a great letter from me to Jon.
It has value for more than an old pastor encouraging a young pastor-to-be. It has value for all of us.
It begins with encouragement to fulfill our purpose. “1I solemnly urge you… 2 Preach the word of God.”
Imagine parents addressing their newly wed children. They would say, “Raise your children with love. Teach them humility without breaking their spirit. Give them enough protection to flourish but not so much as to restrict. Teach them about faith but let their faith be their own. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your children …” In other words, fulfill your purpose as parents in the raising of your children.
Paul goes on to say to Timothy that it won’t be easy. “… people will no longer listen …” Whatever you attempt to do, you will encounter opposition. How true that is. Imagine a letter to a young salesperson, from one about to retire. “Customers will shut their ears to your ‘pitch.’ You will be asked to sell items that you don’t believe are worth the price. Rival salespeople will take your customers. People will not pay their bills.”
The important thing, as you follow your purpose and run into roadblocks, according to Paul, is to keep doing what is right and not be frightened off. “ … keep a clear mind … Don’t be afraid …” Survivors might say this to those beginning an ordeal. The ordeal could be an operation like a hip replacement or chemo to treat cancer or coughing and testing positive to covid-19. Or it could be something natural like going to school for the first time or having one’s first baby. Survivors might say, “Remember clearly that God loves you and don’t let fear take control.”
Verse 7 is so important. “ I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful”. Notice that Paul says he has finished the race. He has taken up his purpose in life. He has had troubles. He kept at it and did not give in to doubt and fear. But … Sarah Lunsford in the Upper Room reminds us that Paul does not say he “won” the race. He just says he did not quit. He finished.
Parents do not say all their children became model citizens. Only that they did what they could and continue to do what they can for their children. Salespeople do not say they broke every sales record. Only that they were people of their word and cared about their customers. Survivors do not say they never dissolved into tears and wailing. They only say they got through the tunnel and they are there for those just entering.
What we hope to say, at whatever stage we are in, is that we have tried to remain faithful and we trust in God for the rest. As we hunker down during shelter-in-place, let us all be encouraged. God loves us. We are remaining faithful. We trust God for the rest.
Blessings – Pastor Doug
Stay in touch. Share your needs. Let us help. Amen.