1When Christ Jesus comes as king, he will be the judge of everyone, whether they are living or dead. So with God and Christ as witnesses, I command you 2to preach God's message. Do it willingly, even if it isn't the popular thing to do. You must correct people and point out their sins. But also cheer them up, and when you instruct them, always be patient. 3The time is coming when people won't listen to good teaching. Instead, they will look for teachers who will please them by telling them only what they are itching to hear. 4They will turn from the truth and eagerly listen to senseless stories. 5But you must stay calm and be willing to suffer. You must work hard, telling the good news and to do your job well.
6Now the time has come for me to die. My life is like a drink offering being poured out on the altar. 7I have fought well. I have finished the race, and I have been faithful. 8So a crown will be given to me for pleasing the Lord. He judges fairly, and on the day of judgment he will give a crown to me and to everyone else who wants him to appear with power.
Having been a minister myself I recognize how easily discouragement can set in. Who do you talk to about your spiritual walk when people look to you as the one who provides spiritual encouragement to others? Who is there to lift you up?
Perhaps Paul senses this kind of discouragement in his young protégé Timothy and therefore points him to seeing life from God’s perspective. Firstly he says it is important for him to keep in mind that Jesus Christ is king and that one day he will judge everyone. This truth can help Timothy set aside the voices of those who do not listen to the gospel and who seem intent on living without God.
Secondly, Paul urges Timothy to focus on his work, the work he was called to do; preach God’s message and to do so faithfully and carefully. Of course there are those who will see that as foolish or who will rather believe false stories. That is their choice. Timothy’s job is to stay focussed and work hard even if it is difficult. Faithfulness is the key.
Paul then changes his tone and lets Timothy in on his own personal perspective. He is convinced that God is in control and in the end he is the One who will decide what and who is right. Knowing this allows him (and in turn Timothy) to set aside those who challenge and reject the Gospel message. God will judge fairly when life ends and grant a just reward.
And with what I imagine is deep emotion but resolute conviction Paul lets Timothy in on his own, personal conviction: “I have fought well. I have finished the race and been faithful” and “I am convinced that I will receive a crown of glory from the Lord.” In the end that is the hope of all who are faithful to God. And that is enough.
Our father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come and your will be done on earth (and particularly in my life and my work), just as it is in heaven. Amen