Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. – 2Tim. 4:2 NIV
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Today’s devotion is a follow-up to the Apostle Paul’s final statement to Timothy who was the Pastor left behind by him in Ephesus to lead and teach the church there. Timothy, compared to the people he was to lead was pretty young but in terms of exposure to the faith, was very deep and experienced. Not only had he been exposed to the rudiments of the faith by his mother, who herself was a Jew and was properly indoctrinated in the faith by her mother (2Tim. 1:5), he had spent quality time understudying Paul whilst accompanying him on most of his missionary journeys so he was deemed fit to lead the church in Ephesus. Paul knew that attempts will be made to intimidate him on the issue of his age so he advised him never to allow anyone do that to him as he goes about implementing his calling, by making himself an example to believers in speech, life, love, faith and purity – 1Tim. 4:12. If God did not find him too young to lead his Church, no human being should question his authority in that position, he attempted to communicate.
Paul never stopped providing guidance for him, even when it seemed he was now independently running his ministry and today’s scripture contains some of those advises. He was to:
1. Preach the Word. One would have thought that this advise should not be necessary, after all what else would a Minister of God be doing if not preaching the Word, but the Apostle Paul will not send this message if it was not relevant. To preach will mean to publicly proclaim or teach a religious message. Paul’s advise will mean that Timothy should concern himself with not just spiritual messages alone, but those that are founded in the Word. There is no doubt that even in today’s Christianity, there is a serious concern about what is being preached as most of what is coming out from the pulpit today hardly have any relevance with spirituality or the Word. The pulpit in many churches today has been turned into the Political Soap Box to address political issues, either local, national or International. The Apostle Paul advises Timothy to ensure that what he preaches is the Word and nothing else. That is the only way that the sheep can grow in the right direction. No wonder, Christians today are very malnourished spiritually as there are no longer spiritually nourishing deliveries coming from the pulpit. Arrange for spiritually nourishing meals for your flock by preaching the Word and nothing else.
2. Be prepared in season and out of season. Paul wants Timothy to be prepared to play his ministry roles at all times. There should be no time that he should be caught off guard as winning souls or combating the deceits of the devil does not have a schedule.
3. Correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For anyone in his position, these are three acts that he will always have to do and cannot avoid. To pastor a Church is to lead people, most of the time away from the wrong path and bring them to a path of righteousness. In the face of the increased activity of the devil and the very high level of human ego, that will always be an uphill task but the one in the position of Timothy will need to rebuke and correct anyway. To correct will mean to let people accept that what or how they are doing something is wrong and suggest an alternative way of doing it. Where a soft approach becomes ineffective, there will then be the need to rebuke such a person. For one who is young and fighting intimidation, it could be very challenging but like earlier cited, he had been advised not to allow anyone look down on him because of his age as he was supposed to set example with his life style. He however was to balance these reactions with that of encouragement for those who were doing good. Whichever was applicable, Paul advised that they must be done with patience and careful instructions.
You may not be in charge of a congregation as big as that in Ephesus but you are definitely a priest by virtue of your call – 1Pet. 2:9 Your membership may consist of just your family members or people across continents, but the size does not take away the fact that you are responsible for their spiritual growth and development. Feeding them rightly such that they can be found spiritually healthy when the chief shepherd comes remains a responsibility that you have to perform rightly and no excuse will exonerate you, should a failure arise. Like Jesus Christ, you should be able to declare that all the sheep that was placed in your care were properly catered for (Jn. 17:24), as that is the only report that can get you the glory from the father on the last day. May your account earn you His glory in Jesus name. Amen.