Day 18

Preach the Word

from the reading plan

2 Timothy 3:14-17, 2 Timothy 4:1-4, Isaiah 40:6-8, John 17:17-26, James 1:19-25

Sometimes when I ask my children to do something like clean up some dirty dishes, they respond with words that never fail to drive me crazy: “They’re not mine, Daddy.” In other words, they’re saying, “That’s someone else’s problem, and I don’t wanna deal with it.”

I understand their logic, but I’m trying to train them to delight in taking care of other people’s stuff once in a while; I want them to develop a natural reflex to jump into selfless, unrewarded service every chance they get. Doing someone else’s job is not necessarily an obvious choice to make, so we have to train that muscle over the course of a lifetime.

Even as adults, we default to the position of “that’s not my job; I’m not doing it.” There are certainly cases when wisdom would dictate that doing someone else’s job is not the best path, but today’s reading calls to our attention the folly in stubbornly attending only to those duties which we have explicitly committed to.

Paul instructs Timothy to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season” (2Timothy 4:2). Perhaps I’m speculating unfairly, but I’m willing to bet that a lot of Christians throughout the ages conclude the following when they consider this verse: “I’m not a preacher; this part isn’t for me.”

Certainly, most followers of Jesus are not vocational preachers who draw a paycheck for their work as a pastor or reverend or priest. So, it makes sense that many of us—perhaps even most of us— have a pretty solid rationale for skipping past this exhortation that one should always be ready to “preach.”

But please allow me to get a little nerdy here and point out the Greek word Paul uses, which most translations render as “preach.” Paul says keruxon, which simply means “herald” or “proclaim.” It’s a common word, not just in New Testament but also in Classical Greek, which implies that the word is not necessarily imbued with the same specialized nuances that the English word “preach” likely has in Christian circles. I’m not saying this word does not mean “preach”; I’m saying it doesn’t only mean preach in the sense that you have to be standing in a pulpit, donning appropriate vestments; you don’t need to have a degree from a seminary, and you don’t have to be paid by a church or other ministry organization. The command keruxon in this passage essentially implies this: as a follower of Jesus, you are called to be prepared at all times for the opportunity to share what you know to be true about the saving grace of the Lord Jesus. It may not be your vocation to “preach,” but to share the gospel boldly and unashamedly is a holy privilege for every believer. 

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