Exercise has many benefits, including controlling our weight, preventing diseases, improving our mood, increasing energy, and helping us get a good night’s sleep. Even so, we neglect it. One reason? We don’t stay focused on long-term goals. When we don’t see an immediate payoff, we often stop trying.
In today’s reading, Paul recognizes a similar danger for Christians. We know that one day Jesus will return and judge the living and the dead. But we cannot see Jesus now, so we lose focus. In light of this, Paul encourages Timothy to keep Christ’s return clearly in mind (v. 1). We must also recognize that He is present with us now. Paul begins his final charge to Timothy reminding him of this important reality: “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge” (v. 1).
This solemn opening serves as a preamble to Paul’s primary charge to “preach the word” (v. 2). Timothy should faithfully teach Scripture at every opportunity, “in season and out of season” (v. 2). “For the time will come,” Paul warns, “when people will not put up with sound doctrine” (v. 3). Timothy needed to stay grounded in Scripture, because the people around him would want a different message (vv. 3–4). Timothy should remember that he will be judged by God one day, not by them. Timothy’s calling was to “endure hardship” (v. 5), teaching his congregation “with great patience and careful instruction” (v. 2).
>> The hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” expresses our longing for Christ’s return.
“O Come, Thou King of nations bring
An end to all our suffering
Bid every pain and sorrow cease
And reign now as our Prince of Peace
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come again with us to dwell.”
Reflect on these lyrics as a reminder of Christ’s return.