II Timothy 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
Carelessness is costly. I remember some years back the U.S. army was trying to impress the Muslim people of a particular country. They gave orders that the soldiers should try to befriend the people of the land by putting their guns down and taking their helmets off and thus showing the people they were not there to hurt them but wanted to be their friends. One of the local people walked up to one of the soldiers with a hatchet in his hand and hit him in the head with it. I do not remember if the soldier died, but he certainly was injured. That was a very foolish action on the part of that commander and of the soldier for following that order.
The Bible tells us that Amasa was not a wise commander. King David replaced Joab with Amasa as his commanding officer. Amasa was to prepare the people for battle and was slow in acting on the king’s command. Amasa thought he was an important man. He had Joab’s robe and his sword, but as he walked the sword fell out of its sheath and he did not even know it. Joab came along and used subtilty to cause Amasa to drop his guard. Joab had a sword in his hand, but Amasa paid no attention to that weapon in Joab’s hand. Joab took Amasa by the beard and struck him with his sword in the fifth rib and killed him. The Bible describes it as a gory scene. You can read about it in II Samuel 20. A good soldier needs to be in a state of readiness at all times. He cannot assume things. Amasa should have known that Joab would not take kindly to having been demoted and someone else taking his place as captain.
In our text, Paul warned Timothy to watch in all things. The enemy has many tactics.
II Corinthians 2:11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
God gives us enough detail on the nature of the devil, that we can know how he operates. Those who are saved do not need to be caught off guard by him. We are never told to engage the devil in battle. We are told to draw nigh to God and in so doing the devil will flee.
In Acts 20, Paul warned the elders in Ephesus that from among themselves there would be wolves who would seek to destroy the flock. They needed to take heed to themselves. In our text, Paul warned Timothy to endure afflictions. The true servant of God cannot take offence easily. He needs to know how to deal with those who oppose him because he serves the true God. John Mark was not ready to serve God when Paul and Barnabas first took him with them on their evangelistic endeavours. John Mark saw the way people treated Paul and he headed back home. The true child of God needs to understand that he is in a spiritual war. He needs to understand that the enemy is out to kill. The enemy wants to destroy the truth. He will do all he can to stop the Word of God from being proclaimed. If he can get the servant of the Lord to run and hide, he will have gained ground. It does not work to speak bravely and then run and hide.
Peter learned that. He promised Jesus that he would never deny Him. Jesus knew better and He warned Peter of what was ahead. Peter would not listen and continued to boast. If Peter would have listened, things would have been different. Peter needed to learn an important lesson. He was a slow learner. In Galatians 2 he fell back into his old ways of compromise and Paul had to rebuke him for his double standard. God was gracious and Peter’s testimony was not ruined. However, there was some repair work that needed to be done to show the Jews at that time that Gentile saints were of equal standing to Jewish saints. Law keeping was not the way of salvation for either Jews or Gentiles. Salvation is always by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
God never promised that those who are saved would have an easy ride. He warned that they would be hated because He was hated. He also promised to send another Comforter who would be with His servants and Who would enable them to be stedfast in the faith. The Holy Spirit indwells every true child of God.
Timothy needed to do the work of an evangelist. It is work. There needs to be time spent in prayer. Prayer is no light thing, at least not true prayer. Preparation for preaching is also not a small thing. God’s servant needs to make sure he knows what he is talking about. He needs to make sure he is rightly dividing the word of truth. He also needs boldness in proclaiming the truth. There will be those who will show their disapproval of the message. They might do that verbally, or they might do it through facial expressions. They might also stir up others to gang up on the man of God. The man of God needs to be prepared for the unexpected. The general scope will be the same. It will be an attack against the truth. The method used may be different at times.
Timothy needed to make full proof of his ministry.
Colossians 4:17 And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.
God equips His servants for the ministry. He expects them to be obedient to their calling. He holds the man of God accountable for his calling. Timothy had been trained. He had witnessed the power of God as Paul had preached. He had seen the opposition to the Word of God. He had seen that Paul did not run away from the truth. He faced the enemies of God and patiently and steadfastly preached the truth. Some were saved, others opposed him. As we see further on in this passage, Paul was ready to meet the Lord. He knew he had been faithful. He had confidence that God would be pleased with his work. Paul was not being arrogant. He had watched in all things. He had learned to endure afflictions. He had been faithful as a minister of the Gospel.
The salvation of souls is of utmost importance. True servants of God understand they are not accountable for how many get saved. If we think we need to see results every time, we are bound to compromise to get the results we think we need to see. True servants are faithful to the Lord and leave the results in His hands. He is not willing that any should perish. He wants all to come to repentance. There is no prize for deceiving people into thinking they are saved when they are not. Full proof of the ministry is not found in numbers. It is found in faithfulness.
God wants to bless each one who is receiving these devotionals. Today is the Lord’s day. It is the day to go to a true Bible-believing church to hear the teaching and preaching of God’s Word. Ask God to guide you to a true church in your area and then go there. If you are saved you need to be a member of a true church. If you are not saved, there is no better time to be saved than today. Don’t resist His work in your heart. Follow Him and you will be blessed.