I don’t know if Timothy ever saw Paul after receiving this letter. In terms of “last words,” Paul was giving Timothy one last lesson. What a relationship they had! Timothy was like a son to Paul. The baton is being passed in these short verses. Paul wants to set Timothy up for success. Why? Because the message is just that important.
Just think if Paul and the early Christians had taken the easy way out. Would there be a New Testament? Would we even know about Jesus? There are many people in this world who are still clueless about who Jesus is. Even some of those who know the name, don’t really “know” Jesus. They haven’t “experienced” Jesus, had the rush of the Holy Spirit in their lives, seen prayers answered before their very eyes.
It’s for them we must not let Paul or Timothy’s legacy end. It is our turn to carry the baton and go out into the world. Granted, it’s a little tough these days as I’m writing this with the pandemic. Yet, we have the global reach at our fingertips with the internet. We should hang up any excuses we have about travel and expense.
How did Paul sum it up in just a few words? What is his final written message to Timothy? “Preach the word of God.” Paul’s season was coming to an end. Timothy was the next generation, and his season was just beginning. It was his turn to preach the good news. He had had a great teacher. He had an even better Savior and Guide.
Timothy was to not wait to be comfortable before preaching. He was to preach now, every moment possible. How did Paul say it? “Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not.” After all, Paul preached in some unexpected places. He knew those opportunities were likely for Timothy, too.
What else? “Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.” Our last reading from Chapter 3 defines what constitutes “good teaching.” Preach the Word of God! Too many churches these days are deviating from that. People love a “feel good” sermon. Unfortunately, those aren’t the ones that will correct us when we stumble or rebuke us for poor choices. They do comfort, but we can get lost in complacency when not challenged a bit.
Paul knew that times would change. Whether in Timothy’s lifetime or not, we know that this is wisdom to be taken by all children of God who have been gifted to preach. The warning was this. “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.” Wow! That sounds like the time we are living in to be sure!
Being married to one of those folks who was gifted to preach, I have seen firsthand how seriously David takes these words to heart in his own ministry. I love that about him. He doesn’t give in to the world’s musings just to be popular. He cares about what God wants more than what people want. He keeps me in check, that’s for sure. He’s super helpful in writing this blog. I write, but he edits to make sure I’m not going off on a “feel good” tangent or something.
Paul is such an encourager here. He knows how hard the life of a preacher can be, I’m so thankful for his words to Timothy here. “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.” He’s straight with Timothy. This isn’t easy, but don’t be afraid. You have a job to do. We all have a job to do. What is your ministry? If it’s not preaching…or writing a blog…or helping lead a mission church (like it is for us)…what is your ministry? How is Paul mentoring you for your act of service?
Take some time today to reflect on your growing relationship with Jesus.
Let’s pray … Lord, thank you for leading our lives yet still letting it feel like our own great adventure movie. I love that you play such an important role in our lives. When life seems to be crashing down, having your steadfast love holding all things together overwhelms me with gratitude. Help me to make the right decisions in our life and ministry. In Jesus’ name. Amen.