In verses 1-8, Paul is thinking “eschatologically.” He is thinking with the end times in mind. Many years ago Stephen Covey wrote a book called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. One of the habits he talked about was this: Begin with the end in mind!
This seems to be something that Paul intentionally put into practice. And here at the end of his 2nd letter to Timothy he is trying to pass on this practice to his young protege. Now Paul is not a head in the clouds kind of guy. He does not think about heaven so much that he is no earthly good. He is intensely practical. It is his eschatological thinking in fact that makes him so practical. Primarily because he believes what he says he believes.
He believes that Jesus will indeed judge the living and the dead. He believes that Jesus will indeed appear again (v.1). He believes that Jesus will indeed reward those who long for His appearing (v.8). And because he wholeheartedly believes these things they motivate him to live his life in a certain way.
And they should us as well. Our beliefs should determine our behavior.
So in these verses Paul encourages young Timothy (and us as well) to do three things:
1) Fulfill your Ministry (v.5) – The ministry that Timothy had been called to was to pastor and to preach the Word. Paul was exhorting Timothy – that in view of the fact that Jesus would one day return – to proclaim the Truth so that people would have every opportunity to respond to the gospel and to be prepared for Jesus’ return.
What is the ministry that the Lord has called you to? It may not be vocational ministry but each of us has the call of God upon our lives. We are “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works….” What is the good work that God wants you to pursue. If you cannot define this in a sentence or two then perhaps you need to ask the Lord to give you clarity as to what your purpose here on earth is specifically for. And then… fulfill your ministry!
2) Fight the Good Fight (v.7) – You are no doubt aware that we are involved in a great cosmic battle – a fight for our very lives. The enemy of our souls wants nothing less than to steal, kill, and destroy. Every day is a fight against sin and temptation. Everyday we encounter opposing world views in our culture. Everyday we deal with the hardness and harshness of life. Paul’s encouragement to us echoes ver succinctly what Winston Churchill famously said,
Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy…. Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days–the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.
3) Finish the Race. Keep the Faith. (v.7) – Our race is not a sprint. It is a marathon. It is “a long obedience in the same direction” (Eugene Peterson). We don’t want to merely finish the race, limping across the finish line. We want to finish strong. Like Paul, we want to get to the end of our days – having endured everything that the enemy can throw at us – and be able to stand before the righteous Judge knowing that we have carried the banner of the gospel courageously and valiantly to the very end. We want to stand in His presence and hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant… enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:23)
May this brick help you to think eschatologically, always keeping the end in mind as we pursue Jesus through the good times and the hard times that this life brings.