- Continue in what you have learned. (3:10-17)
The basics don’t change just because ministry is hard. Keep going back to the Word for your own personal encouragement. It is able to give you assurance and equip you to do the work of ministry.
- Preach the Word. (4:1-4)
This is a succinct repeat of numbers 3, 8, and 10. The emphasis Paul places on it indicates how important it is. Keep preaching the Word. Do it when you feel like it and when you don’t (v. 2b). Preach in a way that challenges people where they live (v. 2c). Keep it up.
- Spend time encouraging someone else who is hurting. (4:9-22)
Paul himself was going through a time of extreme hardship. He asked Timothy to “come to me quickly” (v. 9) because others had abandoned him. As Paul speaks of being left to face the Roman trial by himself (v. 16), his personal hurt is evident. “All forsook me.” He hopes Timothy will pay him a visit.
When we’re discouraged, it can help us to spend time with hurting people in order to lift their spirits. It gets our focus off ourselves. It can break the downward spiral of self-pity and despondency. I don’t know if this was part of Paul’s reason for asking Timothy to come. He may have just wanted Timothy’s company. But Paul evidently did not think that Timothy’s discouraged state of mind would keep him from being an encouragement to Paul. And maybe he thought the trip and the time with Paul would be good for Timothy. Maybe a visit to another discouraged Christian or hurting pastor will be just what you need!
- Know that God will never desert you. He stands with you and strengthens you so the message will go out and the people who need it will hear. (4:17)
This is Paul’s ultimate confidence for himself. He felt deserted and hurt (verses 10, 14, 16). But He knew that the Lord had not abandoned him. These are beautiful words!
But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me . . . (v. 17)
Paul took heart in the truth that His Savior was with Him when everyone else left him. I think he wanted his young friend Timothy to know that the Lord was with him during his painful season of ministry as well. These are good words for any hurting or discouraged pastor to read, cling to, and take heart.
Paul, Timothy, and any discouraged minister of God can say, The Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen! (v. 18)