OpinionsThe ForerunnerIn season and out of season

In season and out of season


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In and out of season
In 1992 Dennis Lee Curtis was arrested in the United States for stealing. Upon inspection the police found a sheet of small paper inside his wallet. On the paper were written the following: 1) I will not kill anyone unless I have to; 2) I will only take cash and food stamps but no checks; 3) I will rob only at night ; 4) I will not wear a mask; 5) I will not rob mini-marts and 7-11 stores; 6) If chased by vehicle, I will not put the lives of innocent civilians on the line; 7) I will rob only seven months out of the year; and 8) I will rob the rich to give to the poor. Obviously, this thief had set his own rules and standards. But certainly, when he stood before the court, he was not judged based on the standards and rules that he had set for himself but by the higher law of the state.

Like this robber, many of us today have also created our own standards and rules of morality. We think that by doing so we could adopt for ourselves a level of decency and uprightness. Only to find out that our standards reveal that they still fall short of God’s will. Paul and Timothy lived in a time of great Christian persecution. Would they still uphold their faith or bend their convictions in order to give in to the pressures of a more popular religion and the powerful people who believed in it? In the face of these conflicting forces threatening God’s people, Paul’s faith and courage rose. Paul exhorts the young Timothy, “Preach the Word. Be prepared in season and out of season…(2 Tim. 4:2) Why do we need to preach the Word?

The ultimate and most vital source of truth is God’s Word. This is why Paul said to Timothy, “Preach the Word.” God’s Word is truth. God’s Word brings people to the knowledge of the true God and obedience to his perfect will through Jesus Christ. But you see, there are many practical challenges to consider. First, there are many sincere and church-going Christians who do not devote ample time and effort to the genuine study of the Bible. The reasons may be varied and complex. But for many, the reading and deep study of the Bible has become an option than a serious priority. As a result, many professing believers cannot even articulate what they believe , more so, defend their faith when it is challenged. Another practical situation is that many churches and congregations have become too engrossed with the busyness of church life that too little attention is given to the spiritual feeding of the people. The result is costly. The church plummets into spiritual ignorance. And many self-confessed believers become easy targets of cults, false religions and deceptive teachings.

Friends, let us also remember that the matter of truth is deeper than just quoting scriptures. It is also more than achieving theological sophistication. Truth is allowing the Spirit of God to bring us to godly repentance. Truth is our sincere acknowledgment of our genuine need for Christ’s forgiveness, direction and wisdom. Truth is putting into practice the tenets of righteousness, justice and mercy in every sphere of our existence – from the most personal and intimate area of our life to our engagements in the community and beyond.

Training, in the context of our study today, is the repeated and consistent application of truth. “Be prepared in season and out of season;” Friends, truth is not about one time acts of heroism or occasional seasons of obedience. Training is about achieving consistency. It is learning to live by the truth “in season” and “out of season.” The “in seasons” are our happy moments we are almost effortless in our pursuits of truth. The “out of seasons” are moments when, in the pursuit of truth, our very lives and reputation are put on the line. It is those moments of difficulties when pursuing the truth becomes a costly and an inconvenient sacrifice.

In 2006, former US Vice President Al Gore launched a global educational campaign on the issue global warming through the film documentary entitled, “An Inconvenient Truth.” The film boldly calls nations around the globe to take serious action in the stewardship of creation before it’s too late. Sure, everyone is talking about caring for the environment but when it comes down to it, are we prepared to change our ways? Will a fastfood chain be willing to put money on biodegradable cups and paper food boxes that are more expensive than styro materials? Will an industry be wiling to put more money on earth-friendly industrial cleaning materials that are far more costly than commercial ones that are half the price? Truth is easy to romanticize sometimes, but when the season is difficult, many take the easier and more convenient path.

Putting it closer to home, we ask ourselves some very practical questions. Are we seriously putting the Word of God to work? Are we willing to initiate reconciliation even when believe we are not at fault? Are we willing to exercise utmost grace and composure even when we are maligned or unfairly treated? Will we exercise generosity even when our resources are scarce and few? Will we exercise loyalty and fidelity to those we love even when they become unlovable and difficult? Will we make compromises in our faith and conviction just to earn a few extra money or be under the good graces of our superiors? Will we have the courage to confront those who have offended us face to face than resort to gossiping, backbiting and character assassination? Will we stand by Christ only when we are in season, or even when we are out of season?

My prayer for us today, friends, is that we may realize how dangerous, volatile and critical the times have become. We cannot believe everything we hear. We should not swallow everything that we are taught by the world. As God’s people in Jesus Christ, we need something strong and solid to guide us in the living of these days. We need a firm foundation to stand on. Let us welcome the Word of God in our lives. Let us preach it faithfully– personally and even as a Church. Let us believe that when we have the truth and when we have allowed ourselves to be trained by the truth–– we can stand firm. We can be immovable. We can stand up against any false accusation, deception or lie. We can face the future, whatever it brings–– in season and out of season.

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