Today’s Chocolate: Green & Black’s Organic 85 Percent Cacao Dark Chocolate
Today’s Passage: 2 Timothy 4
Time to say goodbye to Timothy. Paul signs off with his usual encouragement, exhortations, and personal notes mentioning various individuals by name, but it’s clear Paul wrote this letter late in life. He speaks about his life as a drink offering poured out to God, the conclusion of a victorious battle, the final hundred-meter push at the end of the eight-mile, and he urges Timothy to visit him as quickly as time permits. If Paul’s letters were a chord progression, this one would be a V chord, anticipating a move back to the tonic chord and the end of the song. This is the final chorus; this is the outro.
The endgame has a way of focusing you, drawing into relief what’s really important. I can’t count how many times the hundred-second warning tone and sped-up music of a Super Mario Bros. level have compelled me to quit noodling around with kicking Koopas and hunting Tanooki Suits. You hear that chime, it’s time to finish the level, do or die. Paul knows what he’s got to pass on to Timothy, and here’s what he’s got: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2). Preach the word. Deliver the message. Tell everyone the thing that everyone needs to hear. Spread the gospel.
I’ll cop to it: I’m not so good at that. Fortunately, though, you may observe that Paul didn’t stop at “preach the word!” He goes on to instruct Timothy to correct error and encourage growth within the church, reprimanding and disciplining those who are in the wrong. Crud, I’m not so great at that either. At least I’ve got a reasonable handle on “great patience and instruction.” We live and we learn. And, as Paul is well aware, we die.
Still, Paul’s tone isn’t sad. One gets the impression that he didn’t stain the original text of this last chapter with too many teardrops. He’s glad to be coming into the home stretch, prepared to suffer even in the last push, but looking forward to getting the prize for running the race. And at the end of the day, the most important thing is not something he earns. He tells Timothy, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom” (18). Paul’s final destination is God’s country, and he can count on God to bring him there.