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2 Timothy 4:1-8



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: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men 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. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (verses 1-5)

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I’m struck by how the present moment is to be deeply anchored in the future.


Once again, Paul charges Timothy to carry forward his calling to passionately proclaim the Gospel. But the motivation behind this charge comes from an absolute certainty of the future. It’s as if Paul is saying, “Remember how this scenario will be finally played out!” The Lord Jesus Christ will certainly judge the living and the dead. He will unquestionably appear at the end of time. His kingdom will undoubtedly come in all its fullness. You are standing right now, Timothy, in the very presence of the Father and the Son who will bring all these certainties to pass.


As I read these words, I realize how much my own mind and motivations need to be re-jigged. They need to be galvanized afresh with these very truths. Christ, the future judge, will come again – no question. His kingdom – whose reality is so very different than my present experience of this world – will, in that day, be fully established. Much as I believe these truths, so often they are distant from my awareness – I don’t stand in their certainty here and now. This scripture calls me to change my footing.


These future certainties are the motivation for Timothy’s present ministry. Paul charges him: “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.”


Be prepared in every moment, Paul says, regardless of whether it’s convenient for you or not. Keep your head – don’t be distracted or side-tracked. Put up with hardship – don’t be put off. Fulfill all the responsibilities that your ministry entails – don’t shy away from what’s difficult or stretching or merely time-consuming.


But equally, preach the gospel regardless of whether your hearers want to hear it or not. For, says Paul, there will come a time when people won’t want to embrace sound doctrine – they won’t want to hear the truth; they will turn aside from God’s will; they will accept only what suits their own desires.


It seems to me that we are in such a time now. People find it distasteful to accept God’s view of humanity’s circumstance, that all have sinned and fallen short – they would rather believe that most people are doing the best they can, which should be sufficient. When the Scriptures talk about the “narrow gate” that leads to life, many would rather believe the way is broadly open to all, with many possible routes available for finding God, such that none will ultimately fall under judgement. Regarding sexual ethics, they view the Bible’s guidelines as too narrowly restrictive, choosing instead to establish new rules for a new era. Regarding issues of life and death, the view is that individuals should choose for themselves, rather than trusting oneself to God’s own choice.


But all the while Timothy was to be an evangelist, sharing sound doctrine that was “good news” indeed. This is why preaching both “in season and out of season” was so crucial. The gospel should not be silenced. The Lord is truly coming. His kingdom will fully appear. Those who receive good news, placing faith in Christ, will be welcomed in. Oh, how good.


The urgency remains today. With sights on the future’s certainty we are to live with commitment to the Lord’s purposes, here and now, in the present.

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O Lord, in the midst of a world that pushes aside your will, help me to live true to your Word, embracing your grace, sharing the good news, and setting my sights on your sure coming. To your glory. Amen.

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Reflect: What steps can you take to set your sights more keenly on Christ’s future coming? In what ways can you live and speak so others can better understand God’s truth?

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