2 Timothy 4:1-5
A charge for proper perspective to the man of God
Paul makes his conclusive exhortation, reminding his young co-worker that his duty was to keep the gift of God in him fresh and useful, not to be timid but powerful; never to be ashamed of Christ or anyone who serves Him, to hold tightly to the truth and guard it. He is to be strong in character, to reproduce himself in faithful men, to suffer difficulty and persecution willingly, while making the maximum effort for Christ. He is to keep his eyes on Christ on all time and to lead with authority.
Timothy is to interpret and apply the Scripture accurately, avoid useless conversation that leads only to ungodliness, remain an instrument of honor set apart from sin and useful to the Lord. He must flee youthful lusts, pursue righteousness, faith and love, and refuse to be drawn into philosophical and theological wrangling. He must not be an arguer but kind, teachable, gentle and patient even when he is wronged. He must face dangerous times with a deep conviction and knowledge of the Word of God.
He must understand that the key to his own maturity and that of his people is the Scripture and preach it in season and out of season, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting with great patience and instruction. He must know the priorities for all of life, endure hardship and do the work of an evangelist. In all of these imperatives, Paul summed up the nature of ministry for the young pastor in Ephesus then, and for us today.
Nothing hints at a market-driven philosophy when it comes to biblical ministry. In fact, some of those commands are absolutely impossible to harmonize with the theories that are so popular today. In the latest books on ministry and church growth, you will search long and hard to find anything in them similar to what Paul is saying to Timothy. Many preachers do not draw any element of their ministry philosophy from these Pastoral Epistles.
From the quality of our teachers through the good effect of God’s Word as we saw last Sunday, we now get to hear Paul’s crowning charge for the man of God. Paul foresaw a difficult time. And near the end of his second epistle to Timothy, he outlines all the principles we have considered since March 2019 when we set out to study these Pastoral Epistles.
Over these months, we have heard a number of imperatives to Timothy, to be faithful in his preaching, to be bold in exposing and refuting error, to be an example of godliness, to be diligent and work hard, to be willing to suffer hardship and persecution.
We have also taken note that on the contrary, the market-driven ministry philosophy appeals to the very worst mood in our age. It caters to people whose first love is self and who do not care for God unless they can have Him without disrupting their selfish life styles. We have seen that once you can promise such people a religion that will allow them to be comfortable in their materialism and self-love, they will respond in multitudes.
The fact that people love it does not make it right before God. Popular does not necessarily mean biblically appropriate. So, instead of urging Timothy to devise a ministry that would garner accolades from the world, he warned him about suffering and about hardship - hardly the stuff that modern church growth experts aspire to. We ought to take care of the depth of our ministry; God will himself take care of its breadth.