Be Sober in All Things

“But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship,
do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
2 Timothy 4:5

But You
These words are addressed to Timothy, Paul’s son in the ministry. Paul and Timothy had spent much time together, traveling throughout the Mediterranean world sowing the Gospel seed. Paul affectionately referred to Timothy as his “beloved and faithful child in the Lord” in I Corinthians 4:17 and as his “true child in the faith” in I Timothy 1:2. These men had a special relationship bonded and strengthened by their many experiences together. Paul, realizing that he was about to finish his course (2 Timothy 4:7), exhorted and challenged his young disciple to be and endure and do and fulfill.

Be Sober in All Things • (Watch)
If Timothy was to successfully run the course set before him and avoid the pitfalls of disqualification (see 1 Cor. 9:27), then he would have to “be sober in all things.” To “be sober” means to be alert or vigilant. And indeed the minister of the Gospel must be alert in every regard for two reasons. First, lest he become the victim of the schemes of the devil. We find another exhortation to vigilance in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” The minister must be spiritually, morally, and ethically sober lest he be enticed to compromise his integrity. Second, the minister must be alert that he might know how to apply the Gospel salve to the wounds men sustain in their fray with sin. That is how the Gospel is made relevant to the lives of men. They must see that God has an answer to their pain and questions and doubts.

Endure Hardship • (Withstand)
Hardship comes with the job! Timothy, even as Paul, was sure to encounter hardship in the fruitful years of ministry still before him. Paul reminded Timothy that he had endured hardship when he wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (I Timothy 4:7). Quitting is not an option for a minister of the Gospel.

Do the Work of an Evangelist • (Witness)
A minister of the Gospel must never neglect the importance of soul-winning. Personal evangelism must remain at the very heart of ministry. Introducing men to the Master must be central to all that we do. A minister must never neglect the lost.

Fulfill Your Ministry • (Work)
A minister has a responsibility to do whatever God requires of him. He must leave nothing undone that will advance the cause of the Gospel. The words undone, not attempted, and unfulfilled must be eliminated from his vocabulary. This is the part of the job description that states, “And all other jobs as assigned by God!”

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