2 Timothy 4:1-5
Preach the Word
The most important thing a pastor does is preach the word. There are many other tasks he must do: He must visit the sick, officiate weddings and funerals, attend important local events, oversee church administration, open his house for occasions of hospitality, and any number of matters that require his attention. But above all, he must preach the word. And this will require time in his study pouring over Scripture, praying over his sermon, and structuring it in the best way so that the hearer understands the message conveyed. The only matter that equals this is the integrity of his own walk before the Lord; that is, he must be a walking sermon.
Paul tells this to Timothy after he reminds him of his upbringing, his education under Paul’s tutelage, and the sufficiency of Scripture for all that the believer and the church needs. So, he now says to Timothy, in effect, “You are ready; preach the word!” Moreover, the Apostle gives Timothy this charge “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,” as if to say, pastors will be judged according to their faithfulness to the word when Christ returns—which is frankly a very sobering thought.
And he must preach the word “in season and out of season,” meaning when it is both convenient and inconvenient. And he must “reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience,” the reason being that “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, and will turn away from listening to the truth and will wander off into myths.” And Paul is talking about those who claim to be God’s people!
Well, this time is now; indeed, it has always been. Pastors who preach the whole counsel of God are far and few between. And so it is easy, especially in the laissez-faire American religious climate, for people to hunt up a “teacher” of their choice who will tell them what they want to hear; in fact, we have whole denominations doing just that! On the left preachers teach “tolerance,” which allows a person to fulfill his every lust while condemning those who “judge” him; on the right are those preachers who insist on making worship and the word of God “relevant,” which puts the cart before the horse, demanding that the word bend to contemporary canons instead of we bending to the word’s demands. And Paul’s word to Timothy in the face of all this: “Endure suffering…fulfill your ministry.” That’s all that matters.