2 Timothy 2:8-15 (NRSV)
Verse 8Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David-that is my gospel, Verse 9for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Verse 10Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. Verse 11The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; Verse 12if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; Verse 13if we are faithless, he remains faithful- for he cannot deny himself.
Verse 14Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. Verse 15Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.
In the letter to Timothy, Paul passes on some practical advice that seems critical for preachers and evangelists today: stick to the basics and keep out of the weeds. From Paul’s perspective, a crisp proclamation of the gospel is sufficient. Blathering on and on “ruins those who are listening.”
A wise old colleague of mine used to say this about proclaiming God’s word: “No souls saved after 20 minutes!” I tend to think 15 is enough. Those who have heard me preach might well wish to lower that number to 10.
The key element in Paul’s advice for all of us is this: Keep it simple. Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, is Lord. Thanks be to God!
Gracious God, thank you for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Give all of us what we need to proclaim it clearly, passionately, and simply. Amen.