These words seem very solemn; and they are. Paul knew that he would soon be killed. His ministry was almost finished, and he had no way of knowing how the Lord would fulfil His promise of building His church. However Paul had not abandoned his responsibility to keep on preaching the truth about Jesus Christ, and to urge young Timothy to do the same. Paul’s ‘charge’ affirms Timothy’s earlier commissioning (1 Timothy 4:14) as God’s call on his life. It would be Jesus and not Paul who would assess the outcome of Timothy’s ministry.
The instruction was simple. Preach the Word! That gospel-critical activity must continue - when it is appreciated and when it is not; when people want to hear and when they do not. The preaching must not be calculated to make people feel better but to lead them to being right with God. Correct and rebuke do not sound easy commands; they are not. But only encouraging people, without saying what is wrong and how to put it right, will lead them into fruitless self-delusion: they may be satisfied but God will not be glorified. It would be exceptionally hard work for Timothy and many would resist his preaching. So he would need to be very patient and ensure that he only taught the truth – not bending it to make friends of his hearers.
The same need exists today. All over the world, preachers are encouraging the faithless and bending the truth to suit their patrons and paymasters, or the whims of their society. That is spiritual folly which will be exposed when Jesus Christ returns. How hard it is for preachers to stay true to the Word when their hearers want comfort, prosperity and social advancement. ‘A better life, the way I like it’, is the demand of many. If you are a preacher – keep to this charge without compromise; if you are a believer, urge your pastor not to deviate from the truth of Scripture. All of us must pray that we, and all believers, will resist the pressure to distort the truth; and that all who are called to preach the Word will do so with integrity and without favouritism or discrimination.
© Dr Paul Adams