Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season.…
— 2 Timothy 4:2
Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy during a very difficult season in Timothy’s ministry. A few years earlier, the picture had been radically different. At that time, the church of Ephesus was growing and thriving. Timothy was the new young pastor whom the church loved! Those earlier years were fun and eventful, and everything was moving. What an exciting time it had been to be a Christian leader!
But by the time Second Timothy was written, the situation had changed drastically for this pastor and the believers under his charge. Nero had become the Roman emperor, and his insanity was already wreaking havoc in the lives of countless believers, especially in Rome. As for Ephesus, it was one of the most pagan cities in Asia Minor, as well as the residence of the Roman proconsul. Christians who lived in Ephesus often endured bouts of intense persecution as the Roman government tried to scare them into abandoning their Christian faith and returning to the pagan temples.
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As a result of these hard times, many believers died for their faith. Others defected from the church and returned to the old temples to save their lives. And as if all these hardships and disappointments were not mountainous enough to deal with, Timothy also had to deal with serious internal problems of rebellion among some of the members of his church leadership!
Timothy had written a letter to Paul explaining all his difficulties. Paul’s response to Timothy was the book of Second Timothy. In that book, he urged Timothy to remember that he was to “…be instant in season, out of season…” (2 Timothy 4:2).
The word “instant” is the Greek word ephistimi, which is a compound of the words epi and istimi. The word epi means upon, and the word istimi means to stand. Compounded into one word, the new word means to stand upon, as to take a firm stand or a hard position. Indeed, it was a term borrowed from the military that meant to stay at one’s post.
Timothy’s post was the pulpit of his church. From that pulpit, he maintained his leadership, imparted vision, issued rebukes, taught and preached the Word, and brought correction. It was his post. No one else could stand in that position, because it was the position that had been assigned to him by God. Even though times were very tough and he may have been tempted to shun his responsibilities, Paul urged him,“Stay at your post!”
Notice that Paul told him that he was to be faithful to his post “in season, out of season.” In Greek, this looks like a play on words, but it is a very powerful statement to those of us who are doing our best to serve God. The words “in season” come from the Greek word eukairos. The words “out of season” come from the Greek word akairos. Do you notice how similar these words are to each other?
The word kairos is the Greek word that means seasons or times. This word can be easily altered by adding different prefixes to it. For instance, if you add the word eu to the front of it, it becomes the word eukairos. The word eu means good, happy, pleasing, or pleasurable. This means that when you connect the word eu to kairos, it transforms the word to eukairos, which means good times, happy times, pleasing times, or pleasurable times.
But you can also change the word kairos by adding the prefix a, which turns it into the word akairos. That little a may look insignificant, but it radically changes the meaning of this word. The word akairos means bad times. So when Paul told him, “Be instant in season and out of season,” he was really telling him to be faithful, whether he was having happy times or bad times!
An interpretive translation of Second Timothy 4:2 could be the following:
“Take a firm stand and resolve to stay at your post! Regardless of whether times are good or bad, that is your post — your place of responsibility — so dig in, take a firm stand, and resolve that you are going to be faithful!”
This was just the word Timothy needed to encourage him to stand tall, be brave, and remain faithful to his assignment. His struggles passed, and he became the respected leader of the Christians in the region of Asia Minor. In the years that he served as the senior pastor of Ephesus, Timothy had many different kinds of seasons — some good, some not so good. But regardless, he stayed at his post until the very end.
What kind of season are you going through right now? Is it a happy season? Or are you experiencing hard times? Those happy seasons are such wonderful times, and you should do everything you can to enjoy them. But what are you going to do in the hard times? Are you going to be as faithful and steadfast when you face difficult challenges as you were when things seemed a little easier?
Take Paul’s words to Timothy, and apply them to yourself. This is not a time for you to run in fear or to look for someone else to take your place. If God called you to that post, it’s time for you to dig in, take a firm stand, and resolve that you are going to be faithful whether times are good or bad.
I assure you that the bad times will eventually pass. Dark clouds never last. Eventually the sun always comes out, and the birds start singing again. Wouldn’t it be a pity if you gave up and sacrificed everything you’ve worked so hard to gain because of a few dark clouds?
Jesus is with you, my friend. He will give you all the strength you need to stand tall and to remain faithful. He will do His part, but only you can do your part. What is your part? Making the choice to stay faithful to your post!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I receive this word today as strength for my life! You have called me to do something great for You, and I’m not going to let the devil or my circumstances chase me away from where I know I need to be. It’s been very difficult, but this season will pass — and when it does, I’ll be stronger, wiser, and more equipped for the future. I thank You for helping me to dig in, take a firm stand, and maintain the post You have assigned to me!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am not moving from the place where Jesus called me! The devil and various circumstances have tried hard to move me, but I have made up my mind and have resolved in my heart that I am not flinching or moving from the place where Jesus called me to give my heart! This is my post; this is my ground; and I’m going to be around until I can say I’ve finished my part!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Have the dark clouds been hovering over you for so long that it has made you wish you could give your assignment to someone else?
2. Have you considered how tragic it would be if you quit just before the sun started shining again? Is it possible that you are at the end of this turbulent season and that the best season of your life is just around the corner?
3. Can you think of times in your past when you thought it was all over for you, but then that difficult time passed and you came into a wonderful season of fruitfulness? Don’t you believe God is able to do that again for you?