The Work of Ministry; April 3, 2020

2 Timothy 4:2, 5 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

We are again presented with Paul’s urgent desire for his spiritual son, as he himself faces his impending martyrdom. He doesn’t wish an easy life for Timothy, because he knows it’s not going to happen. However, he desires a faithful, fruitful life for him so strongly that we can feel that desire reach out of the page and grab us. Paul has learned the hard way not to depend on people. Some few are dependable, but they are few and far between, as he expresses from verse nine on. That said, he knows that God is absolutely dependable, and that is his comfort. His final ministry instructions to Timothy, coming at such a point in his life, are very pointed and helpful for anyone who would be a disciple of Jesus Christ. The English word, “preach,” is unfortunate here, because we now associate it so strongly with a formal church setting. I much prefer the Japanese, “proclaim/declare.” We aren’t to limit such activity to when we are standing in a pulpit, as the very next sentence makes clear, in the Japanese at least: “Do this firmly, when the time is good and when it’s not.” It is very important that Paul uses the expression, “the Word,” here, because that both limits it to what God is saying and expands it to everything God is saying. God speaks to us to correct, rebuke, and encourage as He teaches us, and we are to be His agents in passing that on to others. In that process we are to “do the work of an evangelist,” whether we are gifted in that area or not. We like to limit our ministry to the areas in which we are gifted, and in general that’s not a bad idea. However, we are never to use gifting or the lack of it as an excuse not to “do the work of our ministry.” Everything else is secondary to getting people into the kingdom of God and out of the clutches of evil.

I have been aware of this passage for as long as I have been aware of my own calling as a minister of the Gospel. Frankly, I don’t feel I am particularly gifted as an evangelist, and my track record shows that. Every salvation is of course an occasion of great rejoicing, but I often feel they happen in spite of me rather than because of me. On the other hand, I will teach until the cows come home – and all my hearers are asleep! I can’t say that I enjoy rebuking, but God sometimes does it through the words He gives me to speak. I too need to keep my head in all situations and endure hardship. Paul doesn’t say it here, but that includes, “without complaining.” Rather than griping about difficulties, I need to rejoice that my Lord has found me worthy of experiencing them (John 16:33) At the moment I am very grateful that yesterday’s sore throat seems to have been unrelated to COVID-19, and that it isn’t bothering me now. However, that scare was educational in several ways, and I need to give God thanks.

Father, thank You indeed for Your all-encompassing grace toward me. Thank You not only for Your healing, but also for the strength and wisdom You gave me to get things done yesterday. It’s exciting to see the garden coming along. Guide me today in what to plant where, and how and when, so that it will all bear abundantly, not just for us but for others with whom we will share our produce, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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