By Mickey D. Brackin
Senior Pastor, Mars Hill Baptist Church, Lawrenceburg
Focal Passage: II Timothy 3:12-17; 4:1-8
I grew up in Town Creek, Ala., a small town in northwest Alabama. My dad was a sharecropper and construction laborer. His formal education was completed in the sixth grade. Although lacking in formal education he was a wealth of wisdom for my brothers and me. One important truth he taught us was to always “hoe out your row.” When you start hoeing a row you don’t stop until it’s finished. It doesn’t matter how hot the sun gets or how long the row looks — “hoe out your row!” Don’t stop until it is finished.
In today’s lesson, Paul is writing encouraging Timothy to “hoe out his row.” Young Timothy will face difficult times and many hardships as he serves the Lord and ministers to the church. Paul is exhorting and encouraging him to faithfulness in life and ministry (II Timothy 3:12-13). Paul instructs Timothy to continue in the truth, preaching and teaching it just as he himself had been taught from childhood (vv. 14-15).
The basis and bedrock of Timothy’s life and doctrine is the truth of God’s Word.
Timothy can with assurance stand upon the Scriptures, which are all “given by inspiration of God.” Thomas D. Lea states, “The Bible enables us to turn to Scripture with the confidence that it provides an infallible, inerrant guide for our beliefs and practices. Our affirmation of this high view of Scripture provides us with the challenge of obeying Scripture in all of its parts.”
As we turn our attention to chapter four, we see the aged and battle-scarred apostle writing with the love of a father to a son as he pens his final words. Soon the torch will be passed. It is important that Timothy receives and understands Paul’s last words. Paul begins chapter four with a direct charge to Timothy.
Timothy must remember his calling and commissioning by God to divine service. He must also clearly understand his accountability and responsibility to fulfill his calling (ch. 4:1-2).
Timothy will face many hardships and difficulties as he serves the Lord and leads the church. Some will not listen to the truth but will turn away from it for a more comfortable and convenient message.
They will follow fables and doctrines that are pleasing to their own desires (vv. 3-5). Timothy must stand upon the truth of God’s Word and fulfill his ministry.
In verses six through eight, Paul offers his valedictory words. The time of Paul’s execution is drawing near. Very soon the torch will be passed. Paul closes this section by reflecting on his own life and ministry (vv. 6-8). Like a ship about to set sail, Paul is preparing to step into glory. Paul’s testimony of life is that of II Corinthians 4.17.
Timothy, now it is your time. “Hoe out your row!” B&R — Brackin is pastor of Mars Hill Baptist Church, Lawrenceburg.