Read 2 Timothy 4
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: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people 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. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing.
9 Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.
14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.
16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
19 Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus. 21 Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers and sisters.
22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all.
In 2 Timothy 4, before he greets and blesses Timothy and the rest of his friends, Paul imparts one last piece of wisdom that all of us can heed: Always be ready to preach, teach, and share the word of God with people around us. The only way we can do this is if we are committed to, and consistently and prayerfully reading and studying Scripture both personally and corporately.
Verse 2 is also sound wisdom to us as we live out his instructions in community. He reminds Timothy to correct, rebuke, and encourage the people in his church: patiently and carefully. Paul paints a picture of the use of Scripture in a community of faith that is honest, humble and loving. Our culture seems to jump straight into harsh, unloving, and critical correction and rebuke that is often completely disconnected from any kind of relationship or love for the other.
Paul also issues a warning about how those around them may distort the Word of God to suit their own agendas. It would be easiest for us at this point to nod our heads in agreement; this is certainly something that is true of the culture we live in. What we all need to wrestle with, however, is that we all have this same tendency. To avoid being challenged or to stay on the throne of our own lives, we sometimes only hear and see only what we want to (or we create echo chambers by surrounding ourselves with people who believe the same things we do).
Our practice of Scripture reading and study needs to be both personal and corporate. We should all be committed to diligently studying the Word of God personally. But we also need to hear the Word of God with and through others. We all need to, with humility, discuss how we understand and apply Scripture with the community of faith God has placed around us. This is done so that we can remain faithful servants of the Word of God rather than manipulating it to serve us and our agendas.
Let’s obey God’s Word fully. When we are all prepared in and out of season, we are all strengthened and cared for in Christ.
- How is your personal study of Scripture going? Assign yourself a letter grade based on the last month.
- How and how often do you submit your own ideas to others within your community? Do you have people in your life who can hold you accountable and lovingly challenge views or ideas that are destructive?
- Pray for your church leadership today. Pray that they would delight in their own study of Scripture and thank God for their diligence as they teach, preach, rebuke, and correct the people of God carefully and patiently.
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