“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 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. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 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.” (2 Timothy 4:1–8, ESV)
These are possibly the last words that came from Paul to this beloved minister. Paul is keenly aware of what awaits, and he wants to give some final counsel to his son in the faith Timothy. Paul charges this young minister after having ministered himself for around thirty years to preach the word. He solemnizes this charge to Timothy with the caution that this directive is being received in the presence of God and Christ, our righteous judge. For Timothy, the primary task that he is to give himself to is the faithful preaching of the word. He is to be ready at all times. His mind is to be prepared at all times to herald the gospel whether it is fashionable or politically correct. Timothy will have to be disciplined and diligent to make sure that his efforts are wisely stewarded in the service of his Lord.
Apply The Word
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. Emotions are challenging when correction is offered. Some may consider it an attack or be offended by correction even if it is well intended. Few will receive it as an affront to their pride. People will not always endure sound teaching, and some will move away from solid teaching if under conviction. Some people only want their conscience eased and are more eager to hear notions from teachers that will speak to them about novelties and things they for which they have an interest. Some will see the scripture as an antiquated book that needs to be modernized and reject orthodox teaching because it is not popular, politically correct, or difficult. Paul explains that some will be content to search for teachers that will meet their desires or match their preferences and doctrine. 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 preacher.
When The Going Gets Tough
Timothy must be mindful and sober as he approaches the high call of preaching. He should endure suffering for the sake of the truth. He should do the work of an evangelist, namely proclaim the gospel faithfully to those dead in their trespasses and sins. Timothy is to fulfill his ministry no matter what challenges may arise. Paul knows that he will soon depart this life, and he wants his son in the faith to pursue godliness and faithfulness. Although Paul had encountered significant suffering, he was able to say that Christ has brought him to the end of the fight, the finish line of the race, and the end of his faith. In spite of persecution, hardship, and criticism, he had remained faithful to Jesus. He would soon see the goal, the author, and the object of his faith. He was looking forward to the crown of righteousness that would be awarded him by Jesus. The righteous crown given to the faithful servant should be the ambition of every disciple of Jesus Christ.