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Lenten Devotional February 16, 2024

I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of his appearing and his kingdom: Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. But as for you, exercise self-control in everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:1–5, CSB)

Jesus said, “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). But people have trouble hearing truth. In our time, the oft repeated mantras are “truth is relative” or “that is your truth”. Oprah Winfrey famously said at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards: “What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.” But truth is not relative and truth cannot contradict itself.

Paul’s charge to Timothy “is to preach the word.” That word is the truth not “a truth.” Jesus tells Pilate, “…I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”” (John 18:37, CSB) But Pilate’s response sounds very contemporary, “What is truth?” (v.38). Timothy, just as every preacher, is called to proclaim truth in a world filled with lies. It is a grave responsibility. Be ready to “correct, rebuke, and encourage” and do so with “great patience and teaching.” We speak knowing that the lies of this world will be obliterated with the “father of lies.” John Milton said, “‘Let [truth] and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?”[1] 

The world desperately needs to hear truth. Hear it when it is easy and when it is exceedingly hard. We are to speak truth with self-control. Speak truth when is brings hardship. Preaching is always evangelistic, for it proclaims the good news of God’s grace and the call to a new life.

Those other voices—speaking lies from the father of lies—always have a ready audience. People want a message that doesn’t challenge their sins or beliefs. Such audiences are uninterested in truth, only in validation. And so, they shop around for validating voices. They will turn to myths no matter how transparent the lie. For they are unwilling to repent.

But in this season of Lent, we are called to meditate and study God’s word, called to measure our lives with the plumbline of scripture. "The delight of the righteous is in the LORD’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.” (Psalm 1:2) God’s word will not only challenge but change us. For truth gives us liberty to live life fully.

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word, you really are my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” (John 8:31-32, CSB)


[1] Areopagitica (Speech from 1644)

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