Maintain Your Sense of Urgency
“Preach the word, be at it urgently.”—2 TIM. 4:2.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN?
Why did first-century Christians preach with urgency?
How can we maintain our sense of urgency?
Why is Kingdom preaching more urgent now than ever?
1, 2. What questions arise about the command to ‘be at our preaching urgently’?
PEOPLE whose job it is to save lives usually work with a sense of urgency. For example, firefighters rush to an emergency call; they know that lives may be in danger.
2 As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we hope to help people to be saved. To that end, we take seriously our commission to preach the good news of the Kingdom. Of course, we do not dash about frantically. Then what did the apostle Paul mean when he gave the admonition: “Preach the word, be at it urgently”? (2 Tim. 4:2) How can we preach with urgency? And why is our work so urgent?
WHY IS OUR PREACHING URGENT?
3. People’s accepting or rejecting the Kingdom message can bring what results?
3 When you consider what stands to be gained or lost as a result of our preaching, you probably feel an urgent need to speak to others about the good news. (Rom. 10:13, 14) God’s Word says: “When I say to the wicked one: ‘You will positively die,’ and he actually turns back from his sin and carries on justice and righteousness, . . . he will positively keep living. He will not die. None of his sins with which he has sinned will be remembered against him.” (Ezek. 33:14-16) Indeed, the Bible tells those who teach the Kingdom message: “You will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”—1 Tim. 4:16; Ezek. 3:17-21.
4. Why did apostasy make preaching in the first century urgent?
4 To appreciate why Paul exhorted Timothy to preach with urgency, consider some of the context of our theme scripture. We read: “Preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season, reprove, reprimand, exhort, with all long-suffering and art of teaching. For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; and they will turn their ears away from the truth.” (2 Tim. 4:2-4) Jesus had foretold that an apostasy would develop. (Matt. 13:24, 25, 38) As that development approached, it was urgent for Timothy to “preach the word” even inside the congregation so that Christians would not be misled by the deceptive attractiveness of false teachings. Lives were at stake. What about today?
5, 6. We may encounter what popular ideas in our ministry?
5 Apostasy from true worship has now grown and spread. (2 Thess. 2:3, 8) What teachings tickle people’s ears today? In many places, the teaching of evolution has been promoted with religious fervor. Though evolution is usually presented in scientific language, it has become almost a secular religion, affecting how people view God and others. Another popular teaching is that God is not interested in us; thus, we do not need to be interested in him. Why are these teachings so attractive that they lull millions into spiritual sleep? They both carry the underlying message, ‘You can do anything you want because you will not be called to account.’ This truly is a message that has tickled the ears of many.—Read Psalm 10:4.
6 But there are other ways that people have their ears tickled. Some who still go to church like to have teachers who tell them, ‘No matter what you do, God loves you.’ Priests and pastors tickle the ears of others by convincing them that ceremonies, Masses, fiestas, and images have God’s blessing. Little do these churchgoers realize the danger of their situation. (Ps. 115:4-8) Yet, if we can awaken them spiritually so that they understand the Bible’s true message, they can benefit from God’s Kingdom.
WHAT DOES PREACHING WITH URGENCY MEAN?
7. How can we demonstrate our sense of urgency?
7 A conscientious surgeon must give undivided attention to his work because lives are at stake. In our Christian ministry, we can demonstrate a sense of urgency by concentrating on our work, such as by thinking about what issues, questions, or information might interest the people we meet. A sense of urgency might also lead us to adjust our schedule so as to visit people when they are more disposed to receive us.—Rom. 1:15, 16; 1 Tim. 4:16.
8. What does acting with urgency usually involve?
8 Having a sense of urgency also involves setting priorities. (Read Genesis 19:15.) For example, imagine that after getting your test results back, your doctor called you into his office and earnestly said to you: “Look! Your situation is urgent. You have at most a month to do something about your illness.” You likely would not charge out of his office like a fireman on an emergency call. But you would probably get his recommendations, go home, and give serious thought to your priorities.
9. Why can we say that Paul preached with urgency while in Ephesus?
9 We can gain insight into Paul’s urgency by noting what he told the elders from Ephesus about his preaching the good news in the district of Asia. (Read Acts 20:18-21.) Apparently from the first day he arrived, he got busy visiting people from house to house with the good news. In addition, for two years he followed a regular schedule of “daily giving talks in the school auditorium of Tyrannus.” (Acts 19:1, 8-10) Clearly, Paul’s sense of urgency influenced his routine. The call to ‘be at our ministry urgently’ is not intended to overwhelm us with our commission. Nevertheless, the preaching work should take priority in our lives.
10. Why can we be pleased that Christians acted urgently some 100 years ago?
10 The example of a small group of Bible Students who prior to 1914 set out to preach the good news illustrates what it means to have a sense of urgency. Although they were only a few thousand strong, they appreciated the urgency of the times and enthusiastically took up the Kingdom preaching work. They had sermons published in hundreds of newspapers and presented a program of color slides and motion pictures called the “Photo-Drama of Creation.” In this way, they reached millions with the good news. If they had not had a sense of urgency, how many of us would have heard the Kingdom message?—Read Psalm 119:60.
BEWARE OF LOSING YOUR SENSE OF URGENCY
11. What has led some to lose their sense of urgency?
11 Distractions can keep a person from thinking about how important the preaching work is. Satan’s system is designed to get us absorbed in personal pursuits and side issues. (1 Pet. 5:8; 1 John 2:15-17) Some who at one time gave priority to Jehovah’s service lost their sense of urgency. For instance, the first-century Christian named Demas had been a ‘fellow worker’ with Paul, but Demas became distracted by the ungodly system of things. Instead of continuing to give priority to strengthening his brother in a time of trouble, Demas abandoned Paul.—Philem. 23, 24; 2 Tim. 4:10.
12. What opportunity is open now, and what opportunities will be opened to us forever?
12 If we are to maintain our sense of urgency, we need to fight the urge to enjoy more of what life offers. We ought to work at getting “a firm hold on the real life.” (1 Tim. 6:18, 19) You likely have no doubt that everlasting life on earth under God’s Kingdom will provide endless opportunities to enjoy interesting activities. But for now, the opportunity to help others to survive Armageddon is unique to our time.
13. Now that we have become Christians, how can we maintain our sense of urgency?
13 Given that most in the world around us are unwisely sleeping in a spiritual sense, what can help us avoid losing our sense of urgency? We can reflect on the fact that we at one time were sleeping in darkness, as it were. But we were awakened, and Christ has shone on us, as Paul pointed out. We now have the privilege of being light bearers. (Read Ephesians 5:14.) After mentioning that, Paul wrote: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, buying out the opportune time for yourselves, because the days are wicked.” (Eph. 5:15, 16) Amid such wickedness, let us ‘buy out the time’ for activities that can keep us spiritually awake.
WE LIVE IN MOMENTOUS TIMES
14-16. What makes Kingdom preaching more urgent now than ever?
14 The Christian ministry has always been urgent, but now it is more critical than ever. Since 1914, the composite sign described in God’s Word has become clear. (Matt. 24:3-51) Mankind’s survival is threatened as never before. Despite recent agreements, the superpowers still have some 2,000 nuclear warheads ready to launch. Authorities report hundreds of instances of nuclear material being “lost.” Do terrorists have some of that? Observers say mankind could easily be annihilated by a war that a terrorist initiates. War, however, is not the only threat to man’s existence.
15 “Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century,” claims a 2009 report by The Lancet and University College London. It said: “Effects of climate change on health will affect most populations in the next decades and put the lives and wellbeing of billions of people at increased risk.” The effect could be widespread destruction from rising sea levels, droughts, floods, epidemics, hurricanes, and wars over diminished resources. Yes, wars and disasters threaten civilization.
16 Some people might think that the threat of nuclear war could lead to events that fulfill “the sign.” However, most do not understand the sign’s real significance. It has been visible for decades now, which fact indicates that Christ’s presence is a reality and that the end of this system of things is rapidly approaching. (Matt. 24:3) Never before have so many features of the sign been so clearly evident. It is time for people to awaken from spiritual slumber. Our ministry can help awaken them.
17, 18. (a) How does “the season” affect us? (b) What could move people to change their view about the Kingdom message?
17 Only a short time remains to prove our love for Jehovah and to finish the preaching work assigned for the last days. What Paul said to first-century Christians in Rome has even greater meaning today: “You people know the season, that it is already the hour for you to awake from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than at the time when we became believers.”—Rom. 13:11.
18 The events foretold for the last days can make individuals aware of their spiritual need. Others become conscious of man’s need for help as they contemplate the failure of human governments to cope with economic disasters, nuclear threats, violent crime, or environmental destruction. Still others are made aware of their spiritual need by events in their own family, such as a health crisis, a divorce, or the death of a loved one. As we share in the ministry, we make ourselves available to help such people.
MOVED BY A SENSE OF URGENCY
19, 20. How has a sense of urgency moved many Christians to change their lifestyle?
19 A sense of urgency has moved many Christians to increase their share in the ministry. For example, a young Ecuadoran couple decided to simplify their life after they heard the 2006 special assembly day program “Keep Your Eye Simple.” They made a list of things they did not need, and within three months they moved from their three-bedroom apartment to a single-bedroom place, sold some things, and became debt free. Soon they entered the auxiliary pioneer service and responded to the circuit overseer’s suggestion that they serve with a congregation where there was a greater need.
20 A North American brother writes: “When my wife and I attended an assembly in 2006, we had been baptized for 30 years. While driving home after the program, we discussed how we could apply the counsel given on simplifying our life. (Matt. 6:19-22) We owned three homes, land, luxury cars, a boat, and a motor home. Feeling that we must have looked like foolish Christians, we decided to make the full-time ministry our goal. In 2008 we joined our daughter in the regular pioneer service. What a joy it has been to work more closely with the brothers! We have been able to serve where there is greater need. Also, the experience of doing more for Jehovah has drawn us closer to him. Especially rewarding is the privilege of seeing people’s eyes light up when they hear and understand the truth of God’s Word.”
21. What knowledge moves us to action?
21 We know what will soon overtake this wicked system of things—“the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.” (2 Pet. 3:7) Our knowledge of God’s Word moves us to declare zealously the coming great tribulation and the new world to follow. We continue to feel a keen sense of urgency to bring real hope to people. By engaging in this urgent work to the full, we show true love for God and fellow man.