Reading For Thursday 2 Timothy 3:10-4:8
It is helpful to have a role model to follow, and that was precisely what Timothy had in Paul. This young minister had the benefit of seeing up close what it looked like to follow Jesus in life and ministry. Paul affirms that Timothy is following his teaching, conduct, and even suffering well. Paul wants Timothy to understand that God is faithful, even in suffering. Paul makes plain that persecution for the sake of the gospel is unavoidable and that Timothy must continue on in faith. Timothy had been given a solid foundation in the Old Testament Scriptures, which he had received from his grandmother and his mother. These sacred writings made Timothy wise for salvation through faith in Jesus. The Bible has its origin in God, and it is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. This is the way that God equips his followers and moves them to maturity.
Paul charges Timothy to give priority to preaching the word. J I Packer explains the function of the preacher in the following passage:
The evangelical preacher will relate the specific content of all his messages to Christ, His mediation, His cross and resurrection, and His gift of new life to those who trust Him. In that sense the preacher will imitate Paul, who when he visited Corinth “resolved to know nothing, except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). That does not mean, of course, that the evangelical preacher will harp all the time on the bare fact of the crucifixion. It means rather that he will use all lines of biblical thought to illuminate the meaning of that fact, and he will never let his exposition get detached from Calvary’s cross and the redemption that was wrought there. In this way, he will sustain a Christ-centred, cross-oriented preaching ministry with an evangelistic as well as a pastoral thrust.
To quote Richard Baxter:
Let the people see that you are in good earnest.… You cannot break men’s hearts by jesting with them, or telling them a smooth tale, or patching up a gaudy oration. Men will not cast away their dearest pleasures upon a drowsy request of one that seemeth not to mean as he speaks, or to care much whether his request be granted.
Paul suggests several ways in which the preacher is to apply the Word of God: correct any confused ideas about the gospel, rebuke those walking in sin, call people to faithfulness, and all of this is to be done with patience so that the hearer will be encouraged. People will not endure sound teaching but will be eager to hear things from teachers that will speak to them about novelties and things they for which they have an interest. Paul challenges Timothy to endure and fulfill his ministry. Faithfulness to Christ and his word is the measure of success in the life of the Christian minister.
Paul knows that his end draws near, and he wants his son in the faith to know what is important and to pursue godliness and faithfulness. Paul was being poured out but as he examines his life, he is able to say that Christ has brought him to the end of the fight, the race and he has kept the faith. Paul was not home yet, but the end was near, and his martyrdom was fast approaching. In spite of the persecution, hardship, and criticism he had remained faithful to Jesus, the goal, the author, and the object of his faith. He knew there was a crown of righteousness that would be awarded him by Jesus to all that keep the faith to the end.
Things To Consider:
- Who are your Christian role models?
- Why should we expect to be persecuted?
- If we do not experience persecution, what does that tell us?
- Why is the Bible essential for salvation?
- How are you being equipped for every good work?
- Why won't some endure biblical teaching?
- What should be the marks of a faithful teacher?
- How do the metaphors of fighting and racing help us in our understanding of the Christian life?
- What will you receive from Jesus? How do you know?