Discharge all the duties of your ministry

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When I was a kid my step-dad used to take me to football matches to see Tottenham play at White Hart Lane.

I used to love watching the games. But without fail, I would be tying my shoelace or looking for something in my pocket whenever Tottenham actually scored a goal! It's easy to blink and miss it isn't it?

Perhaps you've had that experience when you're watching a film, and you just point out the room to go to the loo and when you come back you realise you've missed the key moment. You were just making a cup of tea when Darth Vader says "Luke, I am your father." Or the little boys says "I see dead people" Blink and sometimes you'll miss it.

Well, this evening I think we've come to that point in 2 Timothy. If you miss just 3 words, you'll have missed the whole point. Look at vv1-2a...

"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: Preach the Word;"

Everything that Paul has said in this letter to Timothy so far comes down to this command, "Preach the Word".

Turn back to chapter 1. Do you remember, at the beginning of the letter 1 Paul urged Timothy not to be ashamed and not to be afraid, but to speak out and stand up for the gospel of Jesus. He reminded him that his life was safe in God's hands, and that now God has placed his message, the gospel, into Timothy's hands. He urged him to keep going, chp 2, not to give up but endure to the end like a solider or an athlete or a farmer. He told him not to be distracted by godless chatter or listen to false teachers, but to make himself useful tot the Master by being holy. And in chapter 3 he told him not to be surprised when he faced opposition but to be confident in his faith and trust that in the Bible he has everything he needs. And now in chp 4, Paul reaches his great conclusion, and his great command. "Timothy,he says, vv1-2a...

"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: Preach the Word;"

Paul is at the end of his life. He's just about to die, and now he urges Timothy not to give up. For 3 years Paul had been training Timothy, and now he is passing the baton onto him and saying, 'Timothy, do your duty - preach the word. And this evening I want us to look in detail at exactly what that means.

But before we do that, I want us to stop for a moment to see that this passage isn't just about what a pastor's duty is, nor is this just a message for Timothy. It's a call to all of us, who call ourselves Christians, to do...

Our duty

Look at v1 again...

"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:"

When Paul appeals to Timothy to do his duty, on what grounds does he appeal? What's the context? There are three things he reminds him of.
1) 'In light of the fact that God is present with you Timothy,
2) ...in light of the fact that Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead, and
3) ...in light of the fact that he is coming soon and that when he appears he will rule over his kingdom...
In light of all those things Timothy, do your duty. That's what he says.

Now of course none of us are Timothy, and most of us are not pastors of a church like Timothy was. But all of us have a Christian duty, and the context hasn't changed. God is still present with us, Christ is still going to come to judge the living and the dead, and he's coming soon and when he arrives he will bring in his kingdom rule.

So before we turn to look at Timothy's, and his duty, we need to ask ourselves. Are you and I doing our duty? Are we doing the duty that God has given us?

To see what your duty is, you need to consider 2 things. Firstly, your position.

Do you have parents? Well then it is your Christian duty, if you are a child, to obey them, Eph 6 v 1, and whatever age you are to honour them, Ex 20 v 12.

Do you have children? Well then it is you Christian duty to teach them about God, Deut 6 v 7, and to teach them to put their trust in him and obey his commands, Ps 78 v 7.

Are you married? Well then if you're a husband it is you duty to love and to be willing to sacrifice your life for her to make her holy and blameless in God's sight. And if you're a wife, your duty is to submit to your husband and to love him, Eph 5 vv 22-32.

Are you a member of a church? Well then it is your duty to encourage your brothers and sisters, Heb 10 v 25.
It's your duty to help those brothers and sisters who are in need, 1 John 3 v 17, and it is your duty to submit to those in authority, Rom 13.

Are you one of those in authority? Do you lead a homegroup or a Bible study or a Sunday School? Then it is your duty to teach the truth and pray for those under you care, Titus 1.

I could go on and on and on. And I will! Are you a boss? Do people work for you? Well then it is your duty to treat them fairly, and if you have a boss, or a teacher, then it is your duty to work for them as if you were working for the Lord, Col 3 v 23. In fact whatever you do the Bible says, it's your duty as a Christian to do it in Jesus name and to give thanks to God, Col 3 v 17.

Do you see? We all have duties. Sometimes we spend time wondering and worrying, 'What does God want me to do with my life?' And we forget that God has already told us what he wants us to do with our lives, Matt 22, he wants us to, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind," and, "Love your neighbour as yourself."

God calls each of us, like Timothy to do our duty. And your duty depends on your position. Are you a mother? A child? A boss? A brother? A Christian? A church member? That's the first part of our duty.

And the second part depends on your gifts.

Timothy, as we've seen, was given the gifts of leading and teaching. It was his duty, to lead and to teach. So let me ask you...what are your gifts? Is it encouragement? Is it teaching or preaching? Is it hospitality? Is it listening? Is it generosity? Is it administration? Because our Christian duty is to use the gifts God has given us for him. Listen to what it says in Rom 12...

"Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him lead diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."

Before we look at what Timothy's duty was, you and I need to ask ourselves are we fulfilling our duty? Look again at v1...

"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:"

Firstly Paul says that you and I need to do our duty remembering that we're in the presence of God. We live our lives in the presence of God. He's with us always. And that's a great encouragement, because we may not feel strong enough or wise enough or able to do our duty, but we're not alone. God is with us, and he will help us. You and I live in the presence of God. But that's also a challenge. God is always with us, so he sees everything. He knows exactly how you treat your wife, or your husband. He sees exactly how you speak to your kids, and what you say to your parents, and he knows the things you don't say. Because God is always with us. You and I must do our duty in the presence of God.

Secondly he says we must remember to do our duty knowing that Jesus will judge the living and the dead. Each day we should live our lives knowing that we will be judged. I think we forget that sometimes as Christians. We think that because we've put our faith in Jesus we won't be judged, but that's not what the Bible says. One day we will all stand before the throne of God, and every thought and word and deed will be revealed. God will ask you, what have you done with what I gave you? What have you done with the precious child I gave you? How did you treat the boss I gave you?
What did you do with the money and the time and the energy that I gave you? We will be saved if we have put our trust in Jesus, but we will still be judged.

Finally Paul says we must remember to do our duty in light of Jesus' appearing and his kingdom. Jesus is coming back, and when he does...will he find us doing our duty? Will he find us doing our duty with the right sense of urgency and importance, knowing that he could return at any moment?

What duty has God given you? Are you doing it? Well then, v1...

"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:"

...do your duty

And for Timothy, and for every pastor ever since, doing his duty meant one thing above everything else. Paul commanded Timothy to Preach the Word. And that's the second thing I want us to consider.

The Pastor's duty

If Paul had only had a scrap of paper to write his letter, or was running out of characters in his text message to Timothy, I think he would have summed it all up in these 3 words, Preach the Word. Why? Because it is the one thing that will sort out all the other issues Timothy faced.

How would he be strong, and not ashamed of the gospel, chp 1? By preaching the Word. How would he endure to the end and make sure others did too, chp 2? By preaching the Word. How would he avoid godless chatter, and oppose false teachers? By preaching the Word! How would he hold onto the truth he'd learned, chp 3? By preaching the Word. For Timothy, and for any church pastor, the central and most important part of their job, their duty, is to preach God's Word.

Preaching has become a pretty negative word in our world hasn't it? We hear people say things like, 'Don't preach at me'. Or they talk about a church or a person and say they're too 'preachy'. But Paul makes it clear, there's nothing wrong with preaching, quite the opposite in fact. Preaching is essential.

It's the primary way to pastor a Church and it's God's chosen way to spread the gospel. The most important thing Timothy must do is preach. But of course there is good preaching and bad preaching! And in v2 Paul tells Timothy there are the 3 keys to good preaching. Good preaching is...

a) Preaching the Word
Good preaching comes straight from the Word of God. At every point in every sermon we should be able to stop and say, 'Where is this teaching from in the passage? And if the preacher has done his job then we'll be able to look down and say, oh yes, it's from v2. And if you can't do that, if you can't see where the preaching is getting what he is saying from the passage, you should ignore it!

Why? Because good preaching comes straight from the word of God. There's no power in what I say or in my words. My words can't help you or save you, only God's word can. Good preaching comes straight from the Bible. Good preaching is preaching the Word. Secondly, good preaching is...

b) Preaching in all seasonsThe second thing in v2 that Paul says should characterise Timothy's preaching is that he should he should preach God's Word in season and out of season. In other words Timothy's duty as a pastor is to faithfully preach God's word week in, week out. He should preach God's word when it's easy and when it's hard, when people want to listen and like what they hear, and when they don't. Look at vv3-4...

"For the time will come when men 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. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."

Paul knows that there will be times when people won't like what they hear Timothy say. They won't like what it says in God's word, and so they'll start to look elsewhere. They'll start to look for a church or a group that teaches what they want to hear. And Paul knows that when people start leaving the church to go and hear other preachers, with different teaching, Timothy's going to be tempted to change what he says, to please the crowd. But Paul says don't.

Your job is very simple Timothy, preach God's word. When the church is growing, and if it's shrinking is shrinking, when people like it or when people hate it, keep on preaching God's word.

A pastor's duty is very simple but it's not always very easy. Because God's word isn't always very easy. And that's Paul's third characteristic of good preaching...

c) Preaching that corrects, rebukes and encourages
If Timothy is going to faithfully preach God's word, then it will mean correcting and rebuking the things that are wrong in people lives, and encouraging the things that are right. And that's not easy. It's not easy to stand at the front and tell people that how they are living their lives is wrong. But if we are faithfully preaching God's word, then sometimes we'll have to do that. And generally speaking people don't like to be corrected or rebuked.

But it is not a pastor's duty to tell people what they want to hear. His duty is to preach the word of God. His duty is to faithfully preach the whole of God's word. The difficult bits and the easy bits. The comforting bits and the controversial bits. And they must to do it all, Paul says, with patience and careful instruction.

Timothy's duty is to "Preach the Word", he says, v2...

"be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction."

So this evening this passage brings us two challenges.

Firstly, will you do your duty? Will you do the duty that God has called you to in your position? Will you use the gifts that God has given you to serve him, v1...

"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,"

And secondly, will you support your pastors and encourage them to faithfully do their duty? Will you pray for Rod and Chris and Me, asking God to help us to our duty and faithfully preach God's word? And will you accept God's Word when you hear it from us? v5...

"But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry."

Let's pray.

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