2 Timothy 4:1-5
1 I 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:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Whew! There’s a lot to say with a passage like this. I’ll try to make this one a little shorter than yesterday, but if you know me, you know I’m long winded. That plays itself out in writing just the same. For our purposes and for the purpose of Lent, we’re going to focus in on just a couple of key pieces after looking at the passage as a whole.
- Verses 1-2 have an exhortation for the Christian (and specifically Timothy, to whom the letter is written). “I charge you… preach the word.” The meaning here is simple enough. Preaching the word should “reprove, rebuke, and exhort,” and you’re to do it “with complete patience and teaching.”
- Verses 3-4 are a commentary on the tendency of people to gravitate towards things that suit themselves rather than challenging themselves with what is true. This is where we’re going to spend the bulk of our time because I think it’s the most obviously recognizable piece in our own lives.
- Verse 5 doubles back to the same charge as verses 1 and 2, just worded differently. He says “fulfill your ministry” by doing the work. There’s also a charge to “endure suffering” which is a form of patience, a theme that will carry over throughout these posts.
Verses 3-4 are where I really want to focus for the rest of this post. Man, if we don’t all fall into this trap from time to time. In fact, it seems that for many people, finding a teacher to suit their passions is their ultimate goal and is, they believe, their God-given right. I want to offer an alternative perspective. Maybe you don’t believe in truth. If that’s you, then this alternative perspective may not say very much to you. It’s a completely different conversation that we need to have, however, for those that do believe in truth, listen up.
Sometimes coming to grips with what is true can be difficult. Sometimes it’s much easier to listen to someone who is telling you exactly what you want to hear, what you want to be true. This is where we get into to trouble. We begin to construct for ourselves a house of cards that becomes more and more fragile the higher we build it. The deeper we move away from reality, the more cards we stack on top until the smallest breath of truth sends the structure crashing down.
It boils down to the same message that I mentioned yesterday. We can’t skip the hard parts of reality and go right to what feels good. The more we medicate our lives and placate our senses with ideas that simply suit our desires, the more we become detached from reality. We build a shaky frame that’s always in danger of falling apart. We’re always rushing to plug every hole and fix every leak, and we become exhausted. Pretending is exhausting.
So seek the truth. Find comfort there. Find rest there. Find meaning there. If Lent is about anything, it’s about stripping away the things that make us believe we are independent, that we don’t need God, that we don’t need community, that we are self-reliant, and that we control everything around us. Lent is about stripping away the flashy and getting to reality, authenticity, and truth.
Prayer and Reflection
Pray that God reveals those things in our lives that prevent us from listening to truth. Pray that He helps us to see ourselves as we are, helps us to love ourselves as He’s created us.