2 Timothy 3.1 – People Are Difficult

Someone once told me that the ‘best and worst thing about pastoring a church will be the people’. From what he writes here, it would seem that Paul agrees.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.

Paul will go on to say that these times of difficulty will come from people (v.2), but for the new minister Timothy this is what he needed to know first;

that as time progresses the times will get progressively more difficult.

This should not be a surprise to us, that as time goes on time gets tougher. Time of difficulty carries the meaning of stressful times, times of trial, times of tribulation…think of trying to swim in a sea that is wild, windy, and wavy. No matter which way Timothy turns, there will be difficult people to minister to.

It seems like Paul wanted to communicate this to Timothy so that he was going forward in his task with his eyes open, so to speak, knowing that people are difficult.

People are difficult, people are broken, and people are in desperate need of the saving grace of God.

If we are honest, so are we.

We are difficult to love, we are broken past the point of self-repair, and we are in desperate need of the saving grace of God.

Pastor, these are your people; difficult, broken, in need of grace.

Friends, this is all of us; difficult, broken, in need of grace.

The answer for both is the same – the free gift of grace available to us through faith in Jesus. Paul will go on to remind Timothy that the Word of God makes us wise for salvation (v.15), and it is on this solid foundation that we must stand as we seek to navigate these times of difficulty. People are broken, you are broken, and without the Word of God to stand on and soak in, this will never change.

Turn to the Word today!

2 Timothy 2.16-19 – God's Firm Foundation Stands

16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal:

“The Lord knows those who are his,” and,

“Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

In contrast to the encouragement and exhortation in v.15, here Paul shows Timothy the other side of the coin and says avoid irreverent babble. Timothy was encouraged to keep the main thing as the main thing and rightly handle the Word of truth and if he does not, Paul says that it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene.

Maybe here your Bible says cancer in place of gangrene, either way the message is clear; false teaching and inaccurate handling of God’s Word spreads quickly and dangerously and leads people astray into ungodliness, the very opposite of what Timothy as pastor has been called to do.

Despite what people may say that the Bible teaches, despite false and inaccurate handling of God’s Word, despite anything that man can do, God’s firm foundation stands. The Gospel still stands, the Word of God still stands, and the Lord knows who are his. Those who are His are to depart from iniquity, and this is what Timothy has been called to teach and preach (vv.11-13, 15, 3.10-17, 1 Timothy 4.6-16).

Today, let us all consider and consolidate the fact that we are His (Romans 8.16-17), and let us depart from iniquity through putting into action the knowledge that comes from right and proper handling of His Word. 

2 Timothy 2.8-13 – He Is Faithful

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

for he cannot deny himself.

Paul continues with encouragement and reminders for Timothy the young pastor, and reminds him to continually remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead…It could be said that without the resurrection, the Christian faith has nothing to set it apart from any other worldview or faith tradition that man can create (1 Corinthians 15.14). Paul is preaching this then first and foremost, and tells Timothy that he is bound with chains as a criminal for doing so (v.9).

Even though Paul is bound, even though throughout history Christian have been and are still persecuted and killed in staggering numbers, the word of God is not bound. This should give us all encouragement; that no matter what government, man, religious fanatic, heard-hearted atheist, or pseudo-believer can do the word of God is not bound and will endure forever (Isaiah 40.8).

Paul then bursts into an early Christian hymn and reminds Timothy of the promise of resurrection (v.11), of the eternal rewards of following Jesus (v.12a), and of the fact that our words and ways can actually lead to the truth of Matthew 10.33 being realised.

The overwhelming comfort here for Paul, for Timothy, and for you today is that even if we are faithless, he remains faithful – for He cannot deny Himself.

Your relationship with the living God does not rest on you, your salvation does not rest on you, the conversion of others does not rest on you, the forgiveness of your sins does not rest on you, it rests on Him alone and friends, He has promised this and He cannot deny Himself. He is so faithful and will walk with you as you live for Him today and every day.