Lasting the Pace
God my Father, now You shelter me in Your love, but one day You will expose me to Your judgment. I trust in Your grace.
2 Timothy 4:1-8
Consider: "Better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere" (Matt Redman). Ponder Jesus' return. Ponder Jesus' return.
There are few things more attractive and motivational for me than meeting Christians at the end of life's journey who are still as passionate about following Jesus as they were in their 20s. Paul has contested the noble contest (7). Having persevered to the end, he now anticipates his departure from this world and his reception by his Lord and Judge. That is the background of his call to Timothy to fulfill his duty to "preach the word" while he can, whenever and wherever he can (2), and never to give up (5).
For Paul, the end is in sight. But that is not the sole preserve of the old or the dying. This is the motivation for every believer--the promised return of Christ, the establishment of his kingdom, the evaluation of our lives and the promise of crowning glory! Christians yearn for this ("all who have longed for his appearing," 8) and the accompanying correction of the dysfunction that presently infests this world (3:1-6,13; 4:3-4).
Consequently, our Christian ministry has an urgency and it demands courage and endurance. The temptation will be to soft-pedal our message or to say what people want to hear. In an interview, the Faroese abstract artist Ingalvur av Reyni (1920-2005) expressed concern that, in an exhibition of his paintings, all were sold. For him, that was a cause for deep concern because it suggested that his work had ceased to be challenging. Preaching the Word comes under similar examination. If it has ceased to correct, rebuke, and encourage (in the sense of urging on), then a question mark hangs over it. It also calls on those of us who hear to be active listeners, eager to have our muddled thoughts straightened, conscious that "we do not know enough to run our lives" (Eugene Peterson).
Apply: The return of the Lord Jesus is a fundamental motivation for Paul. Is it fundamental to the life of your church? Why or why not?
Eternal God, life is so short. What a blessing to know that, as Your child, I have the assurance of being with You forever! Thank You, Father.
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