I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
2 Timothy 4:1-2
In our last message, I spoke about the quickening of our spirit and the deadness of our lives before Christ. Today, I want to talk about pastoral seasons, the convenient and inconvenient times of helping others.
Paul wrote 2 Timothy from a Roman prison cell as Paul's impending death loomed closer. I wrote many letters from my prison cells, but nothing as encouraging as this. However, after being in prison, I do know something about emotional and spiritual seasons and being available regardless.
Ecclesiastes 3 states, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:"
Paul understood there would be seasons in Timothy's life. His comment is both a warning and relief for his pastorally-minded apprentice. Often when young in the ministry, we want to be all things to all people. It's the same when starting in business. We think it's an advantage to be available. "Call me anytime", we valiantly say, not realising the workload if everybody began calling us anytime.
On the one hand, Paul was showing Timothy he was allowed time off, away from ministry, to recharge the batteries. Every Christian is allowed the same. On the other hand, he instructed Timothy to be ready in spirit if an out of season event occurs.
Paul wasn't demanding that Timothy keeps the shop open 24/7. Instead, in those inconvenient times, to be kind and loving, spiritually topped-up, prepared to offer physical assistance, emotional support, or spiritual guidance.
I think we have all found that some people aren't even ready in season. Grumpy and put out, we are sorry we called on them. That should never be us.
God calls us to the maturity of a ready helper who doesn't put off Christ when out of season unless we're going through trauma ourselves and out of service for repairs. He isn't calling us to hang up our prayer life or ministry readiness, as we might hang up a garment in the closet so we can rest. Our rest is in Christ. Our perpetual sabbath is in Him, whether the times are convenient or inconvenient.
God draws us to the high calling of charity or godly love (1 Corinthians 13). Part of that is spiritual readiness. Praise God others have been ready for us in our times of need. "Sorry for the late call, but young Michael has just taken ill. Can you look after the other two kids while we take him to the hospital?" Our helper knows they have to rise early for work and are called on to make an 'instant' decision—to dismiss or rearrange their life. "Of course. It's no trouble. Will you drop them off, or would you prefer I came over?"
We're all ok with scenarios like that. But other seemingly less urgent issues put us out. It's those other times Paul is speaking about.
Today's prayer: Dear Lord, thank you that you are always there whenever I call. Would you please help me continue to develop my readiness? It just might be the thing somebody in trouble needs.
Photo by Simon Berger