2 Timothy 4:1 - 5
If the version of the RCL I have downloaded is correct, we 'dwell' with a Psalm for several days at a time, we are forced to slow down and focus on words we have heard already and wonder what else we may deduce from them. As I re-read it this morning, I found a song from yesteryear rising up from my memory:
Unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul,
Unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust in Thee,
Let me not be ashamed,
Let not mine enemies triumph over me.
Yea, let none that wait on Thee be ashamed,
Yea, let none that wait on Thee be ashamed.
Show me Thy ways, Thy ways, O Lord,
Teach me Thy paths, Thy paths, O Lord.
Remember not the sins of my youth,
Remember not the sins of my youth.
The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him,
The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.
Unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul,
Unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul
Charles F Moore (c) Maranatha Music 1971
I doubt anyone sings it anymore, it is somewhat dated in feel, but it is pretty faithful top the psalm. Remember not the sins of my youth... what failings or faults do I call to mind? Has my view of 'sin' changed since I was a 'youth'? What sins of mature years might I want to confess too?
The passage from 2 Timothy is, as many established readers know, very precious to me, since it is this that I locate my own call to ordained ministry. It is one of the signposts I go back periodically and discover that "oh yes, that's there too". It is a passage that can be glibly and unhelpfully, confusing 'sound doctrine' with 'what I believe to be right' and 'ear-tickling' with someone else hearing what they want to hear, not me, oh no, never me...
When Christ Jesus comes as king, he will be the judge of everyone, whether they are living or dead. So with God and Christ as witnesses, I command you to preach God's message. Do it willingly, even if it isn't the popular thing to do. You must correct people and point out their sins. But also cheer them up, and when you instruct them, always be patient. The time is coming when people won't listen to good teaching. Instead, they will look for teachers who will please them by telling them only what they are itching to hear. They will turn from the truth and eagerly listen to senseless stories. But you must stay calm and be willing to suffer. You must work hard to tell the good news and to do your job well. (2 Tim 4:1 - 5 CEV)
I wonder what words or phrases leap out for you today? I wonder what hallmarks of 'soundness' we employ?
Am I a true or a false preacher? I suspect a bit of both... the human desire to be liked and, my own 'people-pleasing' tendencies, can lead me to evade or avoid telling it as I understand it. How do I speak prophetically into lives or situations that are complex? How do I avoid mere collusion with those I want to please? Where do I find the courage to confess 'I once thought A now I think B'? I'm not going to say which words from the passage were my touchstones today, but I wonder which, if any, are touchstones for you?
Remember not the sins of my youth
The arrogance that believed it knew all there was to know
The legalism that allowed me to perceive myself as better than others
And to pass judgement on their understandings
The times I said 'ah but...' with a proof text
(out of context)
The desire to belong in the Christian bubble that dispaced my inate sense of your desires
Remember not the sins of my maturity
The fear of rejection if I say the wrong thing
The evasion of prophetic responsibility
The intellectualisation of spirituality
The times I say "ah but...' about a proof text
(over-stressing the context?)
The desire to please others that sometimes still displaces my inate sense of your desires
Forgive me, and grant to me
Patience with those who seem to me slow to engage or unwilling to progress
Gentleness with those who wound or insult me
Courage to speak truth, as I know it, in love and humilty
Not seeking my own popularity, nor yet to please those who employ me, but fulfilling your call on my life
And in all things
May your love be expressed through me,
To the honour of your name