13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 ESV
Judgement. The penetrating, righteous declaration of a loving God will one day declare the ultimate “end of the matter.” At that time, all will be laid bare and it will be abundantly clear if we have followed Him sincerely. God knows the secrets of my heart. He knows if I have godly desires or self-driven agendas. There is no fooling Him, even if at times I might be able to convince myself that my ill-conceived motives are noble.
Ultimately, my salvation rests in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but that does not mean I can relax or tolerate sin in my life. The Christian life is an intentional life. Choosing to live, obey, and deny myself.
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.2 Timothy 4:1-2 ESV
Paul might have been specifically speaking these words to a preacher, but they also carry broader application. All believers have access to the truth of God’s word and are preachers throughout each day. Sometimes only to myself, sometimes to my kids, in Bible study, small groups, classes, with friends. My pulpit might look like a lawn chair around a campfire or the passenger seat of a car, but wherever I speak, I need to be ready to speak The Truth. I need to be careful though to not cross that line between preaching and being preachy.
I must be a constant student of God’s Word so that I can accurately represent it as I have opportunity. Expanding each word in verse two based on an interlinear text it goes something like this: To share the message publicly with conviction both when it is convenient and welcomed and when it is inconvenient and rejected; convincing with solid evidence to expose truth and error, warning others to prevent them from going down the wrong path, being a spiritual advocate, with extensive and intensive patience through a summarized body of reliable, time-honored teaching.
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.2 Timothy 4:6-7 ESV
Living out my faith can be exhausting. It is pouring out my life on behalf of others. It is speaking up when silence is less complicated. It is fighting for what matters. It is running an ultra-marathon and then a Spartan Beast, and then an Ironman Triathlon, week after week, year after year. Not in my own strength, because that would never get me through the first leg. But, if I’m not pouring out, fighting, and racing, I’m missing the amazing gift that comes when you completely deplete your own resources and begin to fight and race only with His.
Only by faith.
Lord God, long ago I reached the end of myself and yet I still wake up thinking I can do today on my own. Call me to your side again. Help me speak Your words, love with Your love, discern with Your wisdom, and run by Your strength. Not giving up when the way demands more than I have, but plunging so deeply into You that there is always more to draw on. In Jesus name, amen.