2 Timothy 4:1–2 (ESV) — 1 “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: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”
We are living in a time when the word “tolerance” is being redefined. Instead of it meaning that we are to be tolerant in our attitude towards others, groups are demanding that we acknowledge that all ideas are equally right. If we stand for a particular, and especially, unpopular truth, we are viewed as intolerant and even cruel. The clash occurs because Christianity is a faith built on truth. Truth is not negotiable nor is it open to alteration. Truth is truth for all eternity.
How should we, as followers of Christ, respond to this new cultural definition for “tolerance”? The answer is that we should continue to preach the Word, in season (when it’s popular), and out of season (when it’s unpopular).
What is the nature of our preaching? The apostle Paul tells Timothy it involves reproving, rebuking and exhorting. Reproving involves calling someone into account by showing their fault. Rebuking involves a strong disapproval. Exhorting speaks of encouraging and comforting. Notice that two of the three words (reproving and rebuking) deal with identification of someone’s fault or error. This kind of preaching can be painful but life-changing! Let us not shrink back from telling the truth. Let us correct one another with patience and teaching. Of course, this is the ministry to other believers. For the nonbeliever, correction must be accompanied by a presentation of the gospel. As we help someone understand they are lost, we must tell them how to be found. So, let’s hold fast to the truth of God’s word. Let us be brave in telling people that Jesus is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”.
“Father God, Give me courage to speak the truth in a culture that will accuse me of being intolerant of others. Please don’t let me fade away into anonymity, but rather help me to stand strong on Your truth. Empower me to “speak the truth in love” with all patience and endurance towards others. Use me to be your witness of the truth that is found only in Your Son Jesus. In His name I pray, Amen.”
At the point of salvation, we are translated from the kingdom of this world into the Kingdom of God. We immediately become sojourners and exiles to the fallen, corrupt world system. A sojourner is one who is living in a country that is not their home. An exile is one who is lives in a foreign country, but is different from the other residents. They long for their real home. What a great description of you and me, as God’s children!
As aliens to the world system, we have different values and priorities. We are to no longer go with the culture’s undisciplined, immoral lifestyle. We have come to understand that the passions of this foreign land will damage our spiritual lives. We are in an all-out war against every thought and behavior that contradicts God’s Word. Also, we need to band together in this war, for alone, we will struggle. This morning, as we come together in church, let’s give thanks that we are part of a forever family. We need each other. There is great encouragement and love waiting for each of us.
“Father God, Thank You that I am no longer a part of the corrupt, darkened world system. You have called me into Your kingdom of light. Today, I want to express my gratefulness that I am not alone in this foreign land. I have other sojourners to spur me on to love and good works. Lord, please give a greater love and loyalty to my church family, for I need them and they need me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”