Tis the Season by Zack Fugate
“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: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season…”-2 Timothy 4:1-2
Without question, when you, the reader, began reading this pondering, I am sure that the title initiated thoughts of the Christmas season. Perhaps you even paused and started thinking about Christ’s birth, or you began thinking about fun family traditions, Christmas trees, carols, or various stages of gift giving…receiving…returning…you name it. While the significance of this particular Christmas season cannot be ignored, it is not the focus of this pondering. Rather, the goal is to carefully consider Paul’s instruction in the beginning of the fourth chapter of this letter. Ponder Paul’s charge to preach the word, and consider how this is reflected in your walk with Christ.
Nearly ten years ago, I was invited to attend a pastor’s conference with several men from the church my family attended in Eau Claire before moving up to the north woods. I had served alongside the men at Cedarcreek for a significant amount of time, and many of them played a major role in my life as a young man and believer in college. While I had been following Christ for nearly 8 years at that point, there was one particular teaching at the conference that struck me more so than anything else throughout the week. During one of the breakout sessions, I chose to attend a session titled “Are You Really Reading the Word?”. The title struck me as interesting, and the Lord was convicting me to evaluate my quiet times and my studying of the word, so I went. The presenter of the session was a 72-year-old man who had been a pastor for more than 45 years, and a believer for nearly 52 years! I am truly grateful for the Lord’s guidance and the way that he intervened in my life that day. Herschel, the presenter provided practical actions steps to study the word, and he delivered his instruction with devastatingly humble precision. At a critical moment during the session, Herschel stated, “Not only do we study the word to learn and grow as followers of Christ in our relationship with him, but we study and read so that His words are on our tongue and not our own.” He further expressed that while we may have the ability to speak beautifully and with conviction, there is nothing we can say that carries more truth or power than those from the bible. Paul’s letter examines why that is crucial to understand.
“…reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”-2 Timothy 4:2-5
If we are to heed the Lord’s instruction through Paul’s letter, how much more, then, is it critical for us to be in the word, studying, growing, and ultimately working to ensure that His words are on our tongue and not our own. Brothers and sisters, tis always the season to preach the word. And so, let us be encouraging one another to be studying scriptures, individually and otherwise, so that we are ready with the truth of the Gospel at all times and in all seasons.
Your brother in Christ, Zack Fugate