In today's passage, Paul continues:to encourage Timothy with a multitude of instructions that really can be summarized as "Do the work." In 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 Paul reinforces Timothy's job description before he dies. This passage can be broken down into 3 sections: 1) What is the work? 2) What are the obstacles to the work? 3) What are the tools with which to do the work?
First let's look at the work Paul is telling Timothy to do:
2 Timothy 4:1 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.
It is is easy to see why Timothy might be a bit timid and in need of being reminded of the Spirit's power! (2 Timothy 1:7) This is a high calling. But Paul is not finished, he continues in 2 Timothy 4:5 ...do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
These are simple and clear directions but not easy. We need to remember that Paul is being put to death for the very work that Paul is encouraging Timothy to do. This work involves serving, suffering and spreading the faith for God's purpose: our participation and presence in the coming kingdom of God through the work of Jesus Christ. This is good news!
The way and attitude in which Paul is to do the work is just as important: he is to correct, rebuke and encourage. Every time the word is preached we must be accomplishing these three things. But it also must be done with an attitude of patience and care as well as faith and love (2 Timothy 1:13)
Secondly, what are the obstacles to the work?
Paul lists them in 2 Timothy 4:3 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.
Paul knows that people might not like what Timothy has to say. And he wants Timothy to know that he can't please everyone. Instead, Timothy is to "keep your head in all situations, endure hardship..."
Lastly, what is the tool that Timothy has to do the work?
Paul lists these in 2 Timothy 3:14 and 3:16. The main tool that Timothy has to do the work is the Holy Scriptures and the sound doctrine that he has learned from Paul, both of which point to Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that all scripture is God-breathed (inspired by God). As we learned last week, Timothy is to handle God's word correctly - with skill and passion (2 Timothy 2:15). This is the tool that must be used to do the work.
Sometimes when we can't find the right tool, we make do with what we have. Have you ever tried to unscrew a crosshead screw with a flat screwdriver? Sometimes it works but most often you end up stripping the screw and making things worse.
In the same way, when we try and figure out our purpose, our identity or who God is, what God is like and what God asks of us without the Word of God, it is a losing proposition.
What is God's invitation to us this morning? How can we put into practice the things God is speaking?
First, we must discern the work we must do. For some of you, it truly is a calling to preach and teach the word. But for all of us, we are called to "do the work of an evangelist." An evangelist is one who prepares the way of the Lord. We are evangelists when we prepare the way for the Lord in all of the interactions we have with the people in our lives. Whether they are unsaved family members, friends, or co-workers, everything we do can be a way to prepare the way for the Lord.
All of us too have the authority of Scripture as our main tool to equip us for the task that God has entrusted to us. Are you making the most of this tool? Are you doing your best to become a skillful worker of the Word?
My hope is that we will grow to love to read the Word, hear the Word and live out the Word in the power of the Holy Spirit and may it equip us to do the work God asks of us.