Friday, June 27, 2014

Out of season - 2nd Timothy 4:1-5

"I solemnly 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, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." (2 Timothy 4:1-5)
When it comes to the Kingdom of God, each of us has a job to do. For Timothy, at Ephesus, his job was to preach and teach; to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to instruct people in how the aught to live. This may not be our calling, for we are not all called to preach and teach, nor are we all called to reprove and rebuke, but we are all called to do something. Paul's exhortation to Timothy was to be busy about the work he was called to do whether it was convenient or not. The idea of "in season" has with it the concept of being "well-timed." Not every opportunity that comes our way is "well-timed." Sometimes our service to God requires us to serve even when the timing is less than opportune. We cannot serve God according to our own plans, desires, and sensitivities, we must serve God as bond slaves, always ready to respond in obedience to His ever wish and call.

Jesus never refrained from his service to God even when it came as an apparent interruption to normal life. There was the time Jesus was hungry and tiered. So He sent His disciples ahead to buy food and, "being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour." (John 4:6) It was at this time, while hungry and tired, that a Samaritan Woman arrived at the well to draw water. Jesus engages her in conversation and introduces her to the hope of all nations. There was another time when Jesus was sleeping in a boat while a storm raged all around Him. The disciples were terrified, "and they woke Him and said to Him, 'Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?'" (Mark 4:38) Once again, tired, he rose up and stilled the wind and waves and brought the boat to safety. Finally, there were always people who wanted to see Him, even little children. The disciples, trying to not bother the master, rebuked the parents, but Jesus said, "Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14) Jesus never let His human needs stand in the way of God's calling of service on His life.

Paul's urgency to Timothy was because he understood that opportunities do not last forever. Jesus warned us, "Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest." (John 4:35) God was offering to Timothy, right now and in that very moment, an opportunity to shape the future of the Ephesian church, but tomorrow might be too late. Ephesus was ripe for Timothy's ministry, but times would come when their eagerness to hear would be seduced away by desires for a more "comfortable" message. Now was the time for Timothy's ministry, now was the opportunity.

We may not be changing the destiny of a church, but the opportunities that God brings to us do have a shelf-life. That person God has brought into your life may be open to the love of God now, but that same openness may wax cold tomorrow. We must learn to cease each and every opportunity God brings our way. As Paul put it, "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity." (Colossians 4:5) In such a way we not only serve to advance the Kingdom of God but we bring to fullness the ministry God has appointed to us.

David Robison

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