“But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5).
The letters of 1st and 2nd Timothy are particularly moving to me as they give great insights into the relationship between the Apostle Paul and his young disciple Timothy. While most of the letters in the New Testament are written to an entire church (Romans, Galatians, etc.) the Timothy letters are written to an individual and as a result carry a level of intimacy you don’t normally see in Paul’s writings. In addition, 2 Timothy was probably the last letter the Apostle Paul wrote before his death and we get a sense he was choosing his words carefully. He must have known his beloved ‘son in the faith’ would cherish these words.
This passage offers a striking example of the ample supply of sage instruction given in 2 Timothy. Paul instructs Timothy to be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist and fulfill his ministry. The last part of this passage, “fulfill your ministry,” and what that means for you and me is my focus today.
As regenerated Believers, each one of us has been given gifts from God that we are expected to use. I don’t think anyone would contest that fact. Those gifts were given to us for the express purpose of serving God’s purposes in our own unique generation. In other words, we have those gifts to fulfill a purpose God has for us during our relatively short time on the earth. In the TCC congregation, you have sterling examples of Believers using their gifts so beautifully for the Lord; and I personally find nothing more inspiring than seeing someone operating strongly in their unique gifting. We commonly call the discovering and utilizing our gifts as ‘Ministry’.
Timothy had the specific ministry of an evangelist and shepherd to the early church. Paul alludes to that throughout the two letters by giving him very specific instructions. In verse 5 the phrase, “fulfill your ministry,” can also be translated “make full proof of your ministry.” Paul is giving a very clear challenge to Timothy to fulfill the ministry he has been given and do it in such a way that the proofs will be self-evident to everyone. It is a very powerful charge.
The mirror of scripture encourages us to also evaluate ourselves. You and I have NOT received salvation just to be a passive passenger on the ‘Salvation Train’. God called us to be His servants and has given us specific gifts that He fully intends us to use for His purposes. He has given each of us a ministry in the same way Timothy had been given a ministry. 1 Peter 4:10 states, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” Here comes the tough question: Are we making ‘full proof’ of our ministry? Is it evident to believers and non-believers alike what our gifts are because we are operating in them on a regular basis?
We are so blessed at TCC that the leadership of this church understands one of their primary responsibilities to partners is to assist us in identifying our gifts and then help us find ways to use those gifts for God’s purposes. To put it the terms of Paul’s words to Timothy, they help us “fulfill our ministry.” On April 1st Mark Medley is holding the FIT (Fitting in at Trinity) Initiative from 9 a.m. to noon at Trinity. The sole purpose of this training is to do exactly what we have just discussed: find our gifting and identify what ministries allow us to use those gifts for God’s glory. I strongly encourage all of us to take advantage of this training as it is essential for us to know and understand what roles and purposes God has planned for us.
One last thing. Remember the parable of the talents? Each of the three individuals were servants of the King just like each of us are God’s servant. Each were given talents and had to make decisions about how to use those talents. Likewise, each of us are given gifts; they are not ours but God’s. My friends, we WILL be held accountable for the gift(s) God has entrusted to us. Do not hide yours in the dirt. If upon reflection you discover you have deeply buried your gift, I encourage you to dig it up, brush it off and begin using it as God designed. I guarantee it will bring a fulfillment to your life like you have never known and our generation will be significantly impacted for the Kingdom of God!