2 Timothy 4

2 Timothy 4 has Paul exhorting his disciple to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching”.  Paul charges Timothy to preach the word – and in the original language that meant to testify or be a witness.  It was a strong command.  Timothy was not required to merely know the word or like the word or approve of the word; he was required to preach the word. And it wasn’t in a way to just tickle peoples ears – strong words like reprove, rebuke, exhort – he was to bring the word to bear on the lives of those in his care.  God’s Word is not just a suggestion for life – it is the way we are to live.  Not a theory or idea – but a guide to living in a way that pleases God.

Back in that day, much like today, many didn’t like what the scriptures said.  “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths”.  We really are a gullible bunch. Once we turn from God’s truth, we run to whatever makes us feel good.  When we reject God’s truth, we don’t usually believe in nothing but rather we’ll believe in anything.  Paul wants Timothy to be prepared for the folks who will press him to give them words that make them feel good about themselves no matter how they live.

Paul’s time is quickly coming to an end.  He felt like he was at the train station and his train to heaven was boarding.  “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”.  Those are words all of us should aspire to be able to say as we wind down life.  Paul uses the analogy of a race throughout his writings.  We need to live life as a Christ Follower like an athlete where we are training for and running a race to eternity.  It won’t just happen well without some real intentionality, and if we don’t keep the faith we will get pulled off the course and fail to finish well.

Is it worth the hard work to fight and finish?  Paul makes it clear that it absolutely is.  “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing”.  Remember where Paul came from.  He was a persecutor of Christians and killed many.  Yet as he winds down life on earth we are reminded that Christ’s grace covers any and all sin if we accept his grace and make it our own.  We’ll all stand before God some day and have to give account to a righteous judge.  If all we have to talk about is how we have lived, we will be toast and fail to enter eternity with God.  But if we have prepared by receiving salvation through the shed blood of Christ, we’ll end up with a crown of righteousness as well and spend forever with Paul in God’s presence!

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