“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4: 1-2). Well, there it is. This is as succinct a description of our duties as Christians as you can get. It includes what we are to do and how we are to do it. In its expression it is simple, but the proof of our faith is in the doing of it.
The passage begins with very serious words indeed. “I charge you in the presence of God and of Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his kingly power…” If this does not get your attention, I can think of nothing that will. The fact of the matter is very clear. We are in the presence of God at all times, in all places. We cannot escape his presence. The psalmist tells us in Psalm 139: “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there” (verse 8). God is privy to all that we think, say, and do, and he will judge us with justice now and on the Last Day. As Christians, we know this and we understand that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. For God’s intentions and his commands for us are always for our good and the good of all others, both now and in eternity.
It is wisdom, then, not just to know God’s word in our hearts and minds, but to persistently and joyfully preach it and teach it with our very lives. We also know from history and by the tenor of our times that we can be tempted to remain silent. We might do so out of fear, perceiving it to be “inconvenient” to have to endure the wrath and the threats of reprisals that can come our way living in a culture that grows increasingly defiant of God. But, if we remember that we are always in the presence of God, and that his judgement is always present to us, but so is his mercy and his graces, then, whether it is convenient or inconvenient, we can have the courage to preach and teach the Good News at all times.
The word of God is the salvation of the world. It is the salvation of our individual lives and of all of our relationships. Knowing the word of God, and its saving power, makes it possible for we who believe in him, to teach it with conviction. And we teach it best with the way we live our lives. If we love as he loved us, our teaching will be convincing. If we love as he loved us, our reprimands will be full of that love and will be more acceptable to the ears that hear them. Certainly, if we teach as Jesus taught, with all patience and infinite respect and love for the dignity of the other, it will encourage them to desire knowledge of him. God wants only our desire to do so. He will then give us all the graces we need to be able to fulfill this charge that Paul has given to Timothy here in this letter.
Lord, Fill us with the desire to preach your word with our daily lives. Increase in us a desire to become more steeped in your word through the habit of reading the scriptures daily. Increase in us a love of prayer and fill us with holy courage so that we may openly live the Gospel with our lives. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!
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