Read His Words Before Ours!
…grace be with you.
The weary man laid his quill down and carefully stretched the papyrus taut to avoid smudges. He stood slowly and stretched, groaning silently as his muscles protested the movement. He walked to the window and turned toward the sun. Warmth spilled over his lined and weathered face. The hint of a smile played across his lips as he stroked his now-gray beard. He rested his forehead against the stone and closed his eyes; heart and mind lost on a dusty road to Damascus, many years and miles away.
The Apostle Paul.
Can you picture him there, penning wisdom and challenge to young Timothy?
Once known for his murderous hatred toward followers of Christ, he is perhaps one of the more widely recognized characters depicted in the New Testament after Jesus himself. Paul’s shocking conversion and subsequent activation as an apostle portray irrefutable evidence of Holy Spirit’s power to completely repurpose and rewire man for the purposes of God.
In his final days, Paul faced adversity that would cause complete and utter despair in most people:
He was imprisoned.
His ministry was ending.
He found himself completely alone.
His friends, fearful of persecution, had deserted him.
Paul knew that his death was fast approaching…but rather than spend his days mourning the loss of the temporal, he instead devoted precious time to encouraging his spiritual son, Timothy, in the work of the eternal. As he reflected over the mountains and valleys he had traversed throughout his own life and ministry, Paul was compelled to reach out to Timothy. He delivered wisdom, instruction and sound teaching to the young leader. As we study the book of II Timothy, we find that Paul emphasized several themes that shed some light on the gravity of pastoral gifts.
We could spend months in Paul’s letters and still have much material to cover, but II Timothy 4:1-5 speaks volumes about the weight associated with pastoral gifts of the Spirit. We read his caution to Timothy that he must preach the Word, never faltering in sharing that which is God-breathed. Paul makes it clear that there will be those who seek only to hear whatever will make them feel good. His wisdom is just as relevant today as it was then.
Our pastors face incredible pressure in the public eye as they devote their lives to instructing us in the Word. They are tasked with correcting us when we are wrong, encouraging us in what is right and challenging us to answer God’s call in our own lives. In order to fulfill their calling, we see from Paul’s writings that they must be prepared to preach the Word at all times. By default, this means they must also know the Word. As followers of Christ and temples of the Holy Spirit, we are designed to yearn for God’s truth in our lives. Our very being cries out for the knowledge of the holy. His word gives us that infusion of life and wisdom that we need. Our pastors not only deliver wisdom from His word, but they also help us understand how to apply His instruction in our daily lives.
A look at any news station or trending topic on Facebook makes it clear that people are seeking those who will teach whatever they want to hear. People are desperate for meaning, for purpose. Each of us longs for validation, and without the discernment of the indwelling Holy Spirit, many are attracted to the various “spiritual” options that abound…never recognizing the deceit and false security they bring. Pastors are called to deliver godly instruction in the midst of all the lies and confusion…instruction that requires obedience rather than issuing blind approval.
Read through II Timothy this week. Examine the truth Paul wrote to Timothy at the end of his life, and recognize the weight of the calling our pastors, elders and church leaders bear. They need our encouragement and prayer support, now as much as ever.
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