“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching,” 2 Timothy 4:2 (NKJV).
It’s easy to preach, exhort and teach, when it is something everyone likes to hear. The apostle wrote, that we need to be instant. We think we know what that means; ready to give an answer at any given moment. Of course we have to study, to be able to do that. It’s like any subject; you can’t give a good report, on something you know very little about. Our advice, will not be taken well, if others realize, we have little experience in it.
What does it mean, “out of season”? One translation says that this is when it may not be in our favor; when it might not be acceptable or our comments and answers will not be appreciated. It can also mean when we may have to stand alone; nobody else wants to stand up to the issue or possibly take the heat that comes with doing so. We need to make clear, that standing alone, without the real help, guidance and power of the Spirit, is catering to self and flesh. Only a foolish person, would go without the Spirit’s backing.
Some of us spoke recently, about what the scripture calls, “itching ears.” I think the verse just after that, makes another profound and notable statement. “And they shall turn away their ears from the truth,”2 Timothy 4:4. Now, many among us have already decided who they think those people are. They see it applied to any who have left their particular fellowship or churches; those who no longer abide by or believe the same commandments, they once did. But if we are very honest today, we have begun to see something else too.
A statement was made, “Demas hath forsaken me,”2 Timothy 4:10. And why did this person who had once been part of the work, do this. “Having loved this present world,”2 Timothy 4:10. We can lay all of this upon those we like to call backsliders, if we want. But what we see before us today in the world of what many call church, is also the same thing Demas did: the love of money, fine buildings, large crowds, approval of our peers, recognition of self and hanging out with only our own particular group, is in reality, also loving this present world. To lean on our own programs, and not seeking to truly following the lead of the Spirit at all times, is also turning to the things of this world.
May I say, that everything I may be used to write here, I will face myself. I can be sure of that. Just recently, I posted that many of us were going to be called upon, by the Spirit, to speak things we may not want to say. Abruptly, I was asked to do just that. If we have been truly called by God, we are going to have to address certain things, people don’t want to talk about or hear anymore. It’s one of those times that is called, “out of season.”
Too many are pointing their fingers at others who they think are wrong, and not fully realizing their own lack. Not seeing their own particular sin.
When we think of Paul’s instruction to reprove and rebuke, it is also clear, that it be done with longsuffering. Sound doctrine, does not include commandments of men. Whatever we actually require of others, must be backed up by real scripture; not our traditions or our own interpretation. Being willing to give an answer, even when you didn’t really expect to or want to, is part of being in season, and out of season. Deciding to follow the leading of the Spirit, no matter what, will bring “affliction.” But the Spirit, will also sustain.
~ Robert Blackburn