Wednesday, February 07, 2007

2 Timothy 4:1-5 -- Itching Ears

1In 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: 2Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For 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. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

Paul is warning Timothy that there is coming a time when people are going to distort the truth in a way to make it fit into their personal wishes. In fact, this was already beginning to happen in Ephesus where church leaders were twisting the truth for their own selfish desires and even financial gain. As it relates to Christianity today, two things really come to mind: (1) the rampant tendency to grab little bits of scripture out of context to prove a predetermined point (this drives me crazy) and (2) the popular prosperity message that pedals the man-focused message that God just wants us all to be rich and happy. I am sure there are other ways in which teachers are twisting the truth in order to give the people what they want and thereby increase the number of their followers. What are we to do about this? Paul instructs Timothy to “keep his head”, endure the hardship (which is this frustration of lies), proclaim the gospel of truth, and press on doing his job. How do we do this? Verse 2 lays it out; preach the Word, always be prepared (study it and know it), speak out - correct and rebuke the lies, and encourage truth with “great patience and careful instruction”. We are called to know God’s Word and counter the lies with the careful presentation of the truth. This is an important calling. It should drive us to be in the Word. Why is this so important? Look at verse 1 again: “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing kingdom.” This is not just about opinions; rather it has eternal kingdom ramifications.

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