If you had only one remaining opportunity to offer counsel and encouragement to someone you have cared about and even mentored over the years, what would those words be?
In our text from 2 Timothy 4:1-5 for this Sunday, we find the apostle Paul in precisely this position writing to young Timothy, his spiritual son and successor in the Gospel. Paul is enchained in Rome, awaiting a second trial that scholars believe resulted in his execution by Nero. From the text of this epistle, it is clear that Paul believed this, too. Yet rather than lamenting his present and future state, we find Paul pouring everything he can into this letter meant to equip and encourage Timothy for ministry. “Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord…but preach the Word, be persistent in season and out of season…endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
You don’t need to be a member of the clergy to appreciate the power and impact of these words. The things we do and say to those who look to us for encouragement, wisdom and affirmation represent some of the greatest gifts we can offer, because words indeed matter. Kindness matters. And keeping faith matters most of all.
So who are the Timothys in your circle of influence? Who are the ones struggling to find their way in this crazy world we’re bequeathing to them? What obstacles loom large? What are their insecurities and fears?
One of the greatest things we can do with the time that is given us is to build up each other in love. That, after all, is what “preach the word” means. It’s not just for preachers. It’s really your ministry. And it’s your own calling, too.
Imagine what the colors of your caring would look like if you knew now the words you wanted to say at the end to your Timothys—before you ever had to say them? Imagine if you spoke those very same words into their hearts and hopes today? If you know what is needed, then say these things now. Put your love into action. Fulfill your own unique ministry.
Because none of us know the time or the season—or what seasons we still have left.