By Daphne Delay
"I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching." 2 Timothy 4:1-2
This is strong wording from the Mentor to the Apprentice, wouldn't you say? But apparently the Apostle Paul felt urged by the Holy Spirit to emphasize the urgency of the hour. There is a day coming when God will require an account of every person (Ecclesiastes 3:15). So in the meantime, we mustn't be slackers.
In the Book of James, we are told:
"Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." James 1:14-15
Satan is the tempter; and his goal is to deceive and lead astray. So with great urgency Paul instructed Timothy, "Preach the Word!" - not opinion.
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." 2 Timothy 4:3-4
It's interesting that these words of Paul were written thousands of years ago, yet seem applicable today. From novels to talk shows, people have been drawn away from God's Word. As a society, we are more interested in entertainment than truth. Apparently, Timothy's day wasn't much different.
As pastor of the fastest-growing church in that era, Timothy was young and a bit overwhelmed. In the first letter he received from Paul, he was reminded of his charge:
"To Timothy, a true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. As I urged you when I went into Macedonia - remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith." 1 Timothy 1:2-4
First of all, what Christian doesn't need grace, mercy, and peace? But as pastor of the church of Ephesus, Timothy had an especially big challenge on his hands that required these affections.
Ephesus was the largest trading town on the coast and the prominent place of worship for Diana, the goddess of fertility. The idol worship of Diana was very sexual in nature. So the majority of Timothy's converts had been exposed to, or directly involved with, extreme lifestyles. So young Timothy was challenged with the task of daily preaching God's Word to those who had once been deceived by many things.
And in all honesty, this is the challenge for the church at large today. From television to movies, magazines to great literature, people have every form of entertainment at their fingertips. We need the Word of God as our daily food, but our itching ears desire amusement and pleasure. Ironically, the word "entertainment" is also defined as distraction and diversion - both tools of the enemy used to entice and pull believers away from the truth.
But Paul said,
"Stay in Ephesus and stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual [fables]. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God. The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions [idle talk]." 1 Timothy 1:3-6, NLT
And therein is the danger: idle talk. Instead of encouraging one another with God's Word, we spend hours talking about the latest headlines or this weekend's breakout movie, who was or wasn't eliminated off our favorite reality show or the big play that won or lost the game last night.
Are these things bad? Of course not. The problem is if that's all we talk about. Does our conversation ever encourage, uplift, or instruct based on scripture? Do we "speak of the glory of [His] kingdom and talk of [His] power" (Psalm 145:11)? Do we speak God's Word "when we sit in our houses and when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up" (Deuteronomy 6:7)? Do we, like the two on the road to Emmaus, share God's Word with one another until our hearts burn within us (Luke 24:32)? Or have we, little by little, been turned aside by fables and gap-filling conversation?
I enjoy a good movie and I have some favorite reality shows I like to follow. But I hope my conversation is not filled with these things alone. Instead, my endeavor is to listen carefully for opportunities to share God's Word with others and inspire them to study the scriptures for themselves.
"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8
Or we could say, "The excitement of the headlines and enjoyment of the latest and greatest movie fades, but the Word of our God never will." And if that's not how we feel about God's Word, then maybe we're more deceived than we'd like to think... Maybe the enemy has blinded our hearts lest we say,
"Oh, how I love Your Word! It is my meditation all the day." Psalm 119:97
I pray God would give us all a renewed hunger for the truth and an appetite for godly conversation without fear. Let us determine to fill the gaps with that which edifies and lasts.
"Therefore, since we have such hope, may we speak very freely and openly and fearlessly." 2 Corinthians 3:12, AMP
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Daphne Delay is the founder of Mirror Ministries in Seminole, Texas. She is the author of Facing the Mirror: Finding a Self to Live With. Daphne has written over 200 articles for subscribers to Mirror Ministries and other publications, and she blogs nuggets of spiritual growth encouragement every week. Daphne is the wife of a senior pastor and the mother of three. www.mirrorministries.org
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