“But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
This second letter of Paul to Timothy was written at a hard time for Paul. His remarks at the end reveal this. He himself was re-grouping and getting his things together in order to continue his precious writing. He wanted to create as much understanding as possible for Timothy who was like a son to him. Timothy was undoubtably a gifted evangelist reaping a harvest of souls wherever possible.
Everyone gets set-backs at times but for the servant of the Lord there should be no reason to pause or to hesitate to move forward. Discouragements come but we must find greater strength in our Lord Jesus Christ. This is what Paul describes in verse 17:-
“But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.”
Doing the work can be demanding, especially where we meet opposition or isolation. Paul encourages Timothy to keep going “in season and out of season”! Yes, there are different seasons in the work of the Lord but we must stick to the vision we were given when the Lord brought us into service. Bringing the Word of the Lord is not necessarily popular. As Paul puts it in verse 2:-
“Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”
Rebuking and exhorting doesn’t always go down well with people! Most people shy away from discipline. Nevertheless, the work does not get done without this ingredient being there. It requires our spiritual passion, born of the Holy Spirit within, to keep going with “all longsuffering”. We have a ministry to fulfil. It doesn’t get done on its own! We must take stock of our progress from time to time. We must be listening to the Lord all the time. We must be very clear about what the Lord is asking us to do and be obedient. Priorities should be clearly in focus.
Transparency and accountability help us to get it right as no servant of the Lord is an island! We may have character flaws which need addressing at the right time and being accountable helps us with our vulnerabilities rather than the opposite as some might think. Anointing takes us so far but character must be increasing, not decreasing, in order to “finish the race”.
Distractions can be a serious issue. Paul reports to Timothy that he lost a valuable person this way (verse 10):-
“..for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica.”
People go their own way with their own agendas because they have been distracted in some way or another. Many things in the world can put us off course and we can lose our effectiveness. Self-importance is not the least of these. It is so easy to justify what we think is right!!
It brings us back that, personally, our reliance is on the Lord. When we choose to stay the “narrow way” and hold on to the Lord come what may, we will fulfil our calling. Psalm 46 may have been a strong encouragement in the heart of Paul:-
Psalm 46:1-5 (NIV)
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.