1 I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of his appearing and his kingdom: 2 Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. 3 For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear. 4 They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But as for you, exercise self-control in everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:1-5
“Grace is opposed to earning, not opposed to effort.” I can remember my mentor telling me this over a cup of coffee one morning in high school. This conversation helped me to see that God’s grace is more than a “get out of jail free” card. We never earn our salvation through works, but once we have submitted our hearts to Christ, we don’t just wait around collecting money in our 401k’s and going on endless vacations to 30A beach until the day of our death. God has given a task to His followers, and it involves so much more than waiting—it involves engaging a lost world with His goodness!
Nowhere is this more evident than in 2 Timothy 4:1-5, where Paul is encouraging his mentee Timothy, as well as us, to fulfill our ministry. Paul instructs Timothy to be “ready in season and out of season” to correct, encourage and teach others in the way of the Lord. He knows there will be a time coming when people will turn away from the truth and listen to myths. Does that sound at all familiar?
Paul is urging all Christians to get off the sidelines and get onto the field. He uses words like “exercise” and “endure” in this passage, because the life of a Christian is one of loving, active devotion to Christ and others. Once you give your life over to Christ, you are actually giving Him control over your schedule, your actions and your pursuits.
While you might not be a preacher, the same Holy Spirit that is in a pastor is inside you, and the work of ministry is yours to own. You might not be a traveling evangelist, but God has intentionally placed people in your life who need to hear of Christ through you. You might not get a W-2 from a church, but you are a minister with a mission to fulfill.
What is keeping you from running towards this world? You have everything you need in Jesus. You have His approval. You have His grace. You have His freedom. You have His power. It’s time to get to work to fulfill the task before us. Let’s get to work, brother and sister. We don’t have long.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- When you reflect back over Paul’s words to Timothy, which aspect of his charge scares you the most?
- How have you, in the past, handed over ministry to the “paid professionals”? Why is this so easy to do?
- How will this text impact your actions and attitudes as you go about your day today?
Pray for Bible literacy and a hunger for Scripture for our church family, which feeds our understanding of why it’s important to go to the lost with the gospel. Pray for Katee Sheppard* an IMB missionary who shares Bible stories in Africa. See how God is using these stories here. Our church funds Bible storying projects like this one.