Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread

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: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 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. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 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.
(2 Timothy 4:1-8)

If you’re preparing for an interview or test, you know what you need to do; you need to think through all the questions you might be asked, prepare your responses, and try to think of every possible direction the conversation could go. That’s what this passage is about: Paul is setting Timothy up to study, prepare, and practise. But for what?

Think back to that interview or test. Imagine if you hadn’t done the preparation or spent time learning the material, and then you’re asked a question and you go…blank. You’ve got nothing; no words come to mind, and you have no idea what to say. It’s not a great look, and you’re clearly not going to get hired, or pass the exam. I’m sure, like me, you get a bit uncomfortable at the thought of being caught out like that.

Paul calls on Timothy to treat his mission of preaching the Word like this. To be prepared at any time, at any moment, to share the Good News of Jesus. Now, you might wonder why Paul has to tell Timothy this; they’ve been friends and travellers and in ministry together for a good period of time. But Paul is warning Timothy that a time will come when people will turn away from sound doctrine, and instead find those who will tell them what they want to hear. They’ll turn to myths, and gather around them people who only affirm their own desires and beliefs. That’s the space in which Paul wants Timothy to be ready, at any moment, to preach the truth.

And it’s not just a matter of preaching. During this time, as people are turning to their own desires and false teachings, and as the world might seem to be falling apart around him, Paul tells Timothy that he needs to “keep his head” in all situations, and, on top of that, he is to be ready to endure hardship. Not because it might come, but because it will. In the midst of whatever trials he faces, Paul tells Timothy to “discharge all the duties of your ministry”; not just to carry out the easy parts, but everything he’s been called to do.

But what is waiting for Paul is worth far more than any of the trials Paul has faced. Ahead of him is a crown of righteousness, that will be awarded to him by God Himself. And the incredible thing is, it’s not just Paul—a titan of the faith—that will receive one of these crowns, but anyone who has longed for God to come.

That is why we learn. That is why we train; because what is in store for us is the greatest prize anyone could ever win.

This week, why don’t we set aside some time to prepare, as Paul urges Timothy to? Let’s spend some time reflecting on why we believe what we do—whether alone or with someone else—so that we can be ready to give that response to anyone who may ask.

From Our Daily Bread