Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
2 Tim 4:2-3 (NIV)
2 Tim 4:2-3 (NIV)
As the change of seasons happens around the world and I enjoy the flush of flowers which comes with the Southern hemisphere Spring (and many of the Northern hemisphere residents enjoy the beautiful autumn/fall leaves) I have been challenged to think about how prepared I am to share the gospel with others. This is partly due to some personal reflection I have been doing of late and also partly due to the fact that, with the nicer weather here in Australia, I have more chances to socialise with the other school mums, most of whom are not believers.
Now those of you who know me will know that I struggle to give wise, gentle and tactful responses to others when I'm put on the spot. I struggle with my sinful arrogance and also the strong desire that people should know and be told the truth. And both these things together often results in what may seem to be harsh or judgemental reactions to others as I blurt out a hurried response.
So this week I am being challenged to take to heart the words of 2 Timothy chapter 4. I know Paul is writing directly to Timothy as a preacher in these verses, but I still see a lot that we can gain from it. We need to be prepared no matter the season - you never know when someone's going to say something that gives you the chance to tell them about Jesus! We (and especially I do) also need to have "great patience" and use "careful instruction" when we speak to others. And I think this can be applied to correcting and helping fellow Christians too; we need to be gentle, patient and godly in correcting wrong beliefs of fellow believers, or in helping newer Christians to grow in their understanding of God's word.
We also need to be prepared to speak God's word knowing that many will reject it because of their sin. They won't want to hear what is right and godly and will choose to only listen to what makes them feel good in their sin. But the rest of the passage goes on to say that we should still continue to preach God's word faithfully. It's not easy to stand up for what is right in societies such as ours, but we are commanded, nevertheless, to always be prepared to speak God's word.
Perhaps we can spend this week praying for each other and ourselves as we try to always be prepared to share the gospel with others.