Jeremiah 48:1-47; 2 Timothy 4:1-5; Psalms 94:14-23; Proverbs 21:19-20
NT: “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: Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and teaching. 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. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. 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 CSB)
As Paul began to bring this last letter to Timothy, his beloved son in the faith, he gave Timothy (and us) a solemn charge… an earnest imploring. Paul conjured Timothy, before the Lord God and Christ Jesus, the creator and judge of all creation, to fulfill – to carry through to the end – his ministry. What was Timothy’s ministry? His ministry – his service to all who would hear him – was to preach the word (in season and out of season)… and in preaching the word, using the word to correct, rebuke, encourage, and teach. He was to do the work on an evangelist – which is the propagation of the good news of Christ – that through faith in Christ one can be saved from the wrath of God, redeemed from sin, declared righteous, and filled with new and eternal life.
Why was Paul’s plea so urgent? The day of the Lord is an inevitability… it is going to happen. The Lord Christ will return to fully establish His kingdom on earth; and when He does, He will judge with righteous judgement, the living and the dead. Paul also knew that as time progressed, people would devolve to the point that they would no longer tolerate sound doctrine… they would not be willing to hear the truth of the word, for they would surround themselves with “teachers” who would tell them what they wanted to hear… they would no longer listen to reason, but would instead listen to myths and conspiracies and treat those as truth. Paul knew that the window of opportunity for people to hear and respond to the gospel was growing short, and he wanted Timothy to get the word of God into as many people as he could before it was too late. In order to do that, Timothy needed to exercise self-control, endure hardship and press on in the ministry he was called to.
The scenario that Paul described nearly 2,000 years ago sounds very similar to the environment we find ourselves in 2021. People no longer accept sound doctrine. Social media has created a context for people to live within their own echo chambers and listen to only the teachings and “truth” that they want to hear. Sound reason and logic has, in many cases, been replaced with conjecture, conspiracy, personal opinion and hearsay. The window for people to actually hear and respond in faith to the truth is quickly closing. Paul’s solemn charge to Timothy is so much more imperative for followers of Christ in this era. We need to fulfill our ministry.
Psalms: “The Lord will not leave his people or abandon his heritage, for the administration of justice will again be righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it. Who stands up for me against the wicked? Who takes a stand for me against evildoers? If the Lord had not been my helper, I would soon rest in the silence of death. If I say, “My foot is slipping,” your faithful love will support me, Lord. When I am filled with cares, your comfort brings me joy.” (Psalms 94:14-19 CSB)
As the world grows darker and darker… as people’s acceptance of sound doctrine becomes less and less commonplace… as we continue in faith to fulfill our ministry despite hardships and constant pushback, we can take confidence in this truth: The Lord will not leave His people or abandon His heritage. The peoples of the earth are His inheritance, and He will have a worshipping community of disciples out of every people group on earth that bares His likeness and expresses His glory. In the midst of fulfilling our ministry to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth with the glory of God by seeing souls saved and disciples made, as we experience hardships and are surrounded by anxieties and cares, the Lord – who has promised to be with us even to the end – will comfort us and fill us with joy.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You for the ministry that You have given me. You have given me the privilege of giving people truly good news – news that has the power of God to save them and set them free, if they believe it. Help me, as I endeavor to faithfully fulfill my ministry, to not become overwhelmed and discouraged by the deteriorating state of the world, but to be stirred up to action and graced with endurance by Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.