A Warning to Preachers and Churches
Today’s reading: 1 Timothy 6:3-2 Timothy 4:8
My selection: 2 Timothy 4:1-4
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
My reflections: Paul’s letters advise and warn Timothy about how to fulfill his pastoral ministry in Ephesus, but it also holds much instruction and admonition for Christians in general. It is obvious from the warnings given to Timothy that he was not an infallible super-Christian. Nor were his congregants models of holiness and integrity.
Timothy might be negligent in preaching truths that would challenge his hearers. He needed to be faithful to the Word especially when it ran counter to the thoughts and actions of the people. On the other hand, Timothy, having told the church the uncomfortable truth, might be impatient to see them think and act accordingly, but he was to have complete patience. Further teaching might be needed. Change does not come easily even to those who are sealed with the Holy Spirit.
A congregation might be guilty of rejecting truth that would challenge them. Sound teaching runs contrary to human passions. When church attenders hear and reject difficult truth, they either leave or try to replace the preacher with someone who will tell them what they want to hear, “chicken soup for the soul.”
My challenge: Pastors, beware of soft-pedaling God’s truth or of impatience with those you shepherd. Church members, beware of resisting the truth that runs cross grain to your flesh. All of us will have to answer to God for our faithfulness, or lack thereof, in heeding His Word.
Tomorrow’s reading: 2 Timothy 4:9-Philemon 25