Thursday, July 23rd
Don’t be an ostrich!
For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel (Ezra 7:10).
Ezra had his priorities straight. His heart was “set” to do 3 things: first, to study God’s law; second, to walk it out in his life, modelling it to others, and third, to teach the statutes and ordinances that the people in his day needed to hear so desperately.
I wonder, was Ezra one of Paul’s heroes of the faith? Ezra was faithful in what God required of him. And so was Paul. He understood his responsibility to the Gospel. Timothy had that same responsibility, and we also share it today. We must be diligent in our study, faithful to the Gospel, and obedient in passing on truth to faithful men. This responsibility is just one of the things that we’ve seen in our study of 2 Timothy.
But what about when times are “difficult?” What are we to do in “the last days?” Does our walk with God change when the going gets tough? 2 Timothy 3:1 says, “Realize this, that in the last days, difficult times will come.” These “last days” are now. We cannot be victorious disciples if we ignore the reality of our times. When the men of Israel gathered around David to support him as God’s man, one group stands out because of their discernment – these were the “sons of Issachar, who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles. 12:32). Our world is in moral decay. We are surrounded by overt sin in a self-centred society. Our times are indeed “difficult.” That word means hard, perilous, or dangerous. But our first response is to “realise this!” If we bury our heads in the sand, like that proverbial ostrich, we are not being faithful to our calling as disciples of Christ.
Our task might seem overwhelming, unless we, like Ezra and like Paul, “set our hearts” to obey. In good times and in difficult times, we are to follow their example. Faithful obedience to the Word of God – to the Gospel – must be our absolute top priority, regardless of what is going on around us. In 2 Timothy 3:14, Paul instructs Timothy, “Continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of…” What has Timothy learned? What are “these things” that will enable him to stand firm as an example as someone that equips others? Timothy followed Paul’s teaching and his conduct, his purpose, faith, patience, love, and perseverance, as well as persecutions and sufferings…(2 Timothy 3:10-14)
In dangerous times, Timothy had 2 strong supports: he had the solid foundation of the Scriptures, and the faithful example and encouragement of Paul. Timothy was well-equipped to live a godly life boldly, and to teach others without compromise, even in difficult times. What about us? There is no doubt in my mind that 2 Timothy can encourage and equip us to remain faithful in these “last days.” As I compare the days of Paul and Timothy with the times we live in, I find myself nodding my head, “Yes, I see lovers of self, of pleasure, and of money all around me. I hear boastful, conceited, and arrogant people in the media. Life in our day is becoming more brutal and reckless; people hate good and persecute those that stand for true godliness. But realising that must not make us compromise or cower in fear. We need to continue in the things we are learning.
What have you learned from 2 Timothy that helps you stand firm in faithfulness to the Gospel, when you think about our own ‘difficult times?”