Monday 19 October 2020

2 Timothy 4 v 5/8   (October 18th)

Today is the day the Church celebrates St. Luke, the writer of the third gospel, and the only non- Jewish contributor to the Bible.

The Bible reading for this day is Paul’s Letter to Timothy.  Paul is imprisoned in Rome on false charges, levelled against him by the Jewish Church leaders, and he knows his death is imminent. He is at the end of his life and he wants his devoted service to be continued, and he has chosen Timothy as the one to carry on, so he writes offering guidance and words of encouragement.

He wanted stability, and such can only happen when the Ministry of the Church is faithfully committed to following the Holy commands of Jesus.  Paul was committed to preaching the Word of God as it was given to the men God chose to write.

In this passage Paul begins by warning Timothy that there will be those who will not accept the true teaching, but will be driven by their desire to go their own way and make their own choices.

He calls on Timothy to be an evangelist, that is to proclaim the gospel especially to those who do not know it’s message.  He wants Timothy to keep a clear mind, and never be afraid of suffering, as it will inevitably come to all who are preaching the good news of the Lord.

He calls on Timothy to remain calm and steady, not to fall for anything sensational, and to keep to the truth and not engage in myths.

Paul the turns to his own condition, seeing his life has been like a sacrificial drink offering. In other words, he is forecasting the end of his life which he laid down for the good of the gospel, and is now bound for execution and entry to eternal salvation. God is calling him home, which makes it so important to guide and advise Timothy.

He has fought a good fight against evil, false teaching, and served Jesus devotedly planting numerous Churches in different lands over which he cared and nurtured. He uses the image of an athlete who has successfully run a race and has reached the finishing line, he having completed  all that God sent him to do. He now he claims the prize promised to him by God, through earning by the price paid by Jesus. and which is also for all who remain faithful and set their hearts on the return of Jesus.

Paul ends the Letter by mentioning three men who had been with him I  ministry. First there is Demas who abandoned Paul to follow the ways of the world; then Mark, who though he had once forsaken Paul on a mission, had redeemed himself by having committed himself effectively on later missions.

A special tribute is paid to Luke, who is our special interest today. Luke had been a constant companion, most faithfully accompanying Paul in all his work and service for Christ; he was number two to Paul who depended on him. Like Paul, Luke was a cultured man with a good education. He was in fact a doctor, which is why many medical buildings are called St Luke’s

 Luke meticulously recorded the events and travels, which we find listed in Acts of the Apostles.

The above is the explanation of the passage, we now have to consider what we can learn from it.

There is a call to all Christians, lay or ordained, to make the true gospel known to those who do not know. There is no need for theological training, a simple few words, or even just telling of your Church attendance.

There is a very great need for stability in the Church, for all to speak with one voice rather than the cacophony of words coming from people at the head of Churches, who are favourites with the media, because of their controversial views.

How often have you ever heard a Muslim cleric contradict their Holy Book or faith; I suggest never. We should never betray our faith by denying the teaching of our Holy Bible, as too many in high Office delight in doing. I watch them putting themselves forward as stalwarts of the faith, yet the words are hypocritical and not practiced in life. It is a sad fact that the Western Church has in many places become decadent.

Every new fashion and whim of society is adopted, rather than following Paul who called for protection of the gospel without timidity, proclaiming as God directed. 

There are now so many versions of the gospel being put forward, we have lost our sense of direction. We are like people lost in darkness with no light to guide us as we lose sight of the pure light of Christ.

Jesus laid down a course of guidance for us to follow, and when we digress we come to grief for there is nothing left to hold on to. We are like people walking along a small path on a mountain top, who when we wander from the straight laid down way we are safe, but we stray and fall away. This has happened to so many of our friends with whom we once shared worship, but who fell away, and some who we pushed off.

We are not told a lot about Luke in the Bible, other than he was the only non- Jew contributor and was a doctor, and yet he merges as the fondest. He was with Paul on his last mission and when Paul was in prison.

When Paul writes in Acts he refers frequently to ‘we’ and it can be reliably concluded he was referring to himself and Luke. The Romans sometimes allowed a person being removed to prison to be accompanied by a friend, which accounts for further praise for Luke.

 Luke is described in Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, as the beloved physician, and he owed much to Luke who cared for him and nursed him after the beatings, and consoled him about the thorn in his flesh.  Luke may not have been a great evangelist or preacher, but gave much personal care, giving much back to God, for the gifts God had given him.

 Kindness humility and dedication are not the virtues we find in many people, especially in our age when people’s principle concerns are themselves.  Many people are proud of their knowledge and all the degrees they have and what  eloquent speeches they can make, but ironically the qualities that strikes at other people’s hearts, are just plain common sense and personal care.

 Having worked in public life in two widely different careers, I fall for the man or woman who talk in plain basic words, conveying interest in others, with kindness and love in their hearts. Degrees are good to have, but in the way of life are not always as helpful. I once had to choose who to take on under my supervision,  an ex plumber, or a man with a degree in zoology, it was not a difficult choice to make.

Paul writing to Philemon called Luke a fellow labourer, ready to get on with whatever was needed, but always as a doctor he could much for his fellowmen.

 The Church has many men and women who can properly claim academic brilliance; many who can talk fluently, but unfortunately have never  lived in the real world, and by not doing so have impractical ideas concerning practical issues, which are not  the way ‘ordinary’ people think. Hence we have come to live in a politically correct society, polluted by thought police, where what one says is often thought to be more criminal than true crime.

Faithfulness is a quality I have found to be in short supply these days.  I have worked for many years in  daily contact with people. I can say rationally, I have come to the conclusion there are very few people, comparatively speaking , even within the Church, who one can say with confidence, will remain true to the end.

Luke sets a wonderful example for all. Faithful, reliable, dependable, true to the end. May we pledge to follow his example on this Luke day and every day.

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