In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he is encouraging Timothy to continue his witnessing. He urges Timothy to avoid foolish arguments. We have all gotten into those discussions where no one is going to win and we are all worse off for our effort. As Benjamin Franklin put it: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” We need to study and be ready to witness to those God puts in our paths.
As Paul tells Timothy later in 2 Timothy 4:2 (NCV)
2 Preach the Good News. Be ready at all times, and tell people what they need to do. Tell them when they are wrong. Encourage them with great patience and careful teaching,
We are not to be ashamed of the Gospel or change it to make it more acceptable. But every word we say must be spoken in love which will draw others to Christ and not push them away. Wrong or evil teaching will spread through the Church (body of Christ) just like a sickness spreads through the body.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
2 You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. 3 Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. 5 And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. 6 And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. 7 Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.—2 Timothy 2:2-7 (NLT)
When God, through His Holy Spirit gives us wisdom and understanding, it isn’t just for our own enlightening. He wants and expects us to share it with those He puts in our path each day. God’s Kingdom will spread as 1 teaches 1 teaches 1 teaches 1, well, you get the idea. We don’t “own” the understanding that God gives to us It is given for us to use in glorifying and worshiping Him. As spiritual warriors, we should not be weighed down with the cares of this world. God goes before us and follows after us, He has prepared the way for us and the hearts that we are to speak into. Just as good farmers sow, weed, water and fertilize before they are rewarded with the fruits of their labor, so must we do the same things. Every time God prompts us to speak to someone, we are either sowing, watering, weeding, or fertilizing the mission field God has given to us. It has been determined that it takes 7 (on average) encounters with the Gospel to bring a soul to Christ. Everyday, we should be one of the 7.
1 This is a trustworthy saying: “If someone aspires to be an elder, he desires an honorable position.”2 So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. 3 He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. 4 He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. 5 For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?–1 Timothy 3:1-5 (NLT)
Although Paul specifically gives these characteristics for the elders (deacons, Church board members), they could just as well apply to any position of leadership or authority in the church, home or workplace. We each must pursue a lifestyle that is pleasing to the Lord. Unbelievers are watching us daily to see how we respond to situations. Are we controlling our emotions and desires? Are we showing love to God and to our neighbors? Are we teaching our families the value of living a Christian lifestyle? Jesus said that if we are faithful in the little things, He will promote us to be in charge of greater things. How are we measuring up?
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, 13 even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. 14 Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.–1 Timothy 1:12-14 (NLT)
We were all born as sinners into a sinful world. We all have sinned. Paul was a murderer of Christians, but God doesn’t have “little” sins and “big “sins”. He just sees sin. In the book of the Revelation, chapter 21, verse 8, we are told:
“But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. Liars and those who participate in immoral acts are treated just as if they were murderers or idol worshipers. We all need to come to the same understanding that Paul did. We are saved by faith in God’s mercy and grace. He no longer remembers our sins of the past. He sees us as the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We are “in” Christ Jesus. That is the mystery of the love and mercy of God. We are accepted by God because of the perfection of Jesus Christ and His obedience, even unto death on a cross. We should always be thankful, have joy in our hearts and a song of praise on our lips.