I taught this lesson on April 14. I hope it brings you peace and hope.
Read the entire book of 2 Timothy aloud.
Do not be ashamed of the message of the gospel. Paul lovingly uses his last words to encourage Timothy and to remind him of his job. Over and over we hear "Do not be ashamed." Even Timothy, who learned from and worked with such a great leader as Paul, was ashamed sometimes. How much more so are we?
The amazing thing about these words of encouragement and warning is that they ring and hold true with us as well. Paul's last words to his dear son are also God's words to us.
He tells us to stand firm in the faith.
He tells us to preach the Word.
He reminds us we should not be ashamed.
I think of times when I have a message or Word from the Bible for a close friend, and I act ashamed of it. I smile, and apologize for the advice, and tentatively offer an idea. That is NOT preaching the Word. Or I fuss and fret over the wording, trying not to offend, waiting for the perfect time to broach the subject.
The Word of the Lord is not chained. The name if the Lord is a strong tower. Yet I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day.
We are to preach the Word in season and out of season. We are charged as soldiers or farmers or athletes to run this race. This is no time to be complacent or worried about the right phrases.
Mark 13:9-13 (New International Version)
9"You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
12"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
This text reminds us that the Holy Spirit will give us the right words to say. When I have something difficult to say I make a conscious effort to pray that the Lord would guide my words.
Why are we doing this? Why are we running such a difficult race? If I am already on the right path, why must I treat it with urgency?
CS Lewis gives us an excellent, biblical reason. I am flattened by this essay every time I read it. This is an excerpt from the Weight of Glory.
"It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour's glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously--no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner--no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat--the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden."