Links Daily Devotional

Swift in Service

…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2, ESV)

I hope you didn’t miss the wonderful little news item out of Cincinnati two Mondays ago. Dr. Henry Heimlich saved a choking woman from death. Using the Heimlich maneuver. For the first time.

If we stand by, ready in the ministry the Lord has given us, we can come away gratified, joyful at playing a critical role in God’s work.Having invented the life-saving intervention more than 40 years ago, Heimlich had demonstrated the technique thousands of times. But this time, it was for real, and Heimlich, now 96, came to the rescue. Employing his namesake maneuver, he dislodged a piece of meat with a bone in it from the throat of an 87-year-old woman in the assisted-living facility where both reside. How’s that for dinner theater?

I find an undeniable parallel between this story and the directive of Paul to his maturing protégé, Timothy. In the midst of describing Timothy’s ministry—preaching, correcting, rebuking, and encouraging—Paul inserted these words: “Be instant in season, out of season” (KJV). It was a reminder of the urgency of the work.

We do pretty well with urgent in our Western contexts. Certainly a tee time is a tee time and I’m not going to be late! We may not always be comfortable with running from this meeting to that, pulled along by the demands of our calendars, but we cope.

Still, we must admit that much of this is artificial—urgent, perhaps, but not emergent. And sometimes our schedules excuse us from the real desperation that surrounds us—even the needs of our closest friends.

This is where Paul’s words matter not only to Timothy, but to us. We each have been given ministerial assignments and qualifications. You may not be a teacher of a congregation as Timothy was, but if you come alongside in care and support of even one other person, you can trust that the Lord has given you this context and this role. That should be reason enough to be ready!

The Greek word translated instant in the King James and ready in the English Standard Version means “to stand by,” and it is normally used in a literal sense. One who is on watch like this can indeed be swift in service, there to help right at the moment of need. This is our calling; it can also be our joy.

Look at Dr. Heimlich’s reflections after his recent intervention: “It was very gratifying. That moment was very important to me. I knew about all the lives my maneuver has saved over the years and I have demonstrated it so many times but here, for the first time, was someone sitting right next to me who was about to die.”

We do not always know the fullness of someone’s need, though that person may be sitting right next to us. But if we stand by, ready in the ministry the Lord has given us, be it of word or of deed, we too can come away gratified, joyful at playing a critical role in God’s work.

Jeff Hopper
June 6, 2016
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