Maintain Your Sense of Urgency
“Preach the word, be at it urgently.”—2 TIMOTHY 4:2.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN?
Why did Christians in the first century preach with urgency?
How can we keep our sense of urgency?
Why is our preaching work more urgent now than ever before?
1, 2. What questions will be answered about preaching with urgency?
PEOPLE whose job it is to save lives usually work with a sense of urgency. For example, firefighters rush to an emergency because they know that lives may be in danger.
2 As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we want to help people to be saved. That is why preaching and teaching the good news of the Kingdom is very important to us. But although our work is urgent, we do not rush around without thinking. Then what did the apostle Paul mean when he gave the counsel: “Preach the word, be at it urgently”? (2 Timothy 4:2) How can we preach with urgency? And why is our work so urgent?
WHY IS OUR PREACHING URGENT?
3. What can result if people accept the Kingdom message? What if they do not?
3 When you think about how our preaching work can save lives, you probably feel the urgent need to tell others about the good news. (Romans 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.” (Ezekiel 33:14-16) The Bible tells preachers of the good news: “You will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”—1 Timothy 4:16; Ezekiel 3:17-21.
4. Why did apostasy make preaching in the first century urgent?
4 To understand why Paul strongly advised Timothy to preach with urgency, we need to read our theme scripture and some of its context: “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 Timothy 4:2-4) Jesus had prophesied that there would be an apostasy. (Matthew 13:24, 25, 38) So it was urgent for Timothy to “preach the word” even inside the congregation so that this apostasy would not attract Christians and deceive them with false teachings. Their lives were in danger. What about today?
5, 6. What popular ideas do people we meet in the ministry believe?
5 This apostasy from true worship has grown and spread to many places. (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 8) What wrong teachings attract people today? For example, in many places evolution is taught with the same strong feelings that people have for their religion. Even though science is usually used to explain and support evolution, it is as if evolution has almost become a religion but without God. It affects how people feel about God and how they feel about other people. Another popular teaching is that God is not interested in us, so we do not need to be interested in him. Why do millions of people listen to these teachings that prevent them from having a relationship with God? Both teachings make people believe that they can do anything they want because there is no one to answer to. This is a message that many want to hear and believe.—Read Psalm 10:4.
6 But there are other teachings that people believe. Some people who still go to church like to hear that no matter what they do, God loves them. Others like to hear their priests and pastors tell them that ceremonies, Masses, religious celebrations, and images can help them to be blessed by God. These churchgoers may not realize the danger of their situation. (Psalm 115:4-8) But they can benefit from God’s Kingdom if we wake them up from spiritual sleep and help them to understand Bible truths.
WHAT DOES PREACHING WITH URGENCY MEAN?
7. How can we show our sense of urgency?
7 A good surgeon must give his complete attention to the surgery because the patient’s life could be lost. In our Christian ministry, we can show a sense of urgency by giving our complete attention to the preaching work. We can do this by thinking carefully about what subjects, questions, or information the people we meet might be interested in. Also, we understand how important this work is, so we might want to change our schedule so that we can visit people when they are more willing to listen to our message.—Romans 1:15, 16; 1 Timothy 4:16.
8. What does having a sense of urgency mean?
8 Having a sense of urgency also means that we do the most important things first. (Read Genesis 19:15.) For example, imagine that after you receive the results from a medical test, your doctor calls you into his office and tells you: “You have an urgent health problem, and you have no more than a month to do something about your illness.” What would you do? You would probably not immediately rush out of his office to do something about the situation. But you would listen carefully to what he thinks you need to do, go home, and decide what you should do.
9. Why can we say that Paul preached with urgency in Ephesus?
9 We can learn from Paul’s sense of urgency by reading what he told the elders in Ephesus about his preaching in the district of Asia. (Read Acts 20:18-21.) From the first day he arrived, he was busy preaching to people from house to house with the good news. For two years, he also had a regular schedule of “daily giving talks in the school auditorium of Tyrannus.” (Acts 19:1, 8-10) Paul’s sense of urgency influenced his routine. The counsel to preach with urgency is not meant to make us feel that the preaching work is too much for us to do. But the preaching work should be very important in our lives.
10. Why can we be glad that the Bible Students began to preach with urgency?
10 Before 1914 a small group of Bible Students started to preach the good news. Their example shows us what it means to have a sense of urgency. Although there were only a few thousand of them, they knew that they lived in urgent times and began preaching about the Kingdom with zeal. They had sermons printed in hundreds of newspapers and showed a program of color slides and moving pictures called the “Photo-Drama of Creation.” By the Bible Students’ work, millions of people heard about the good news. Because the Bible Students had a sense of urgency, it was possible for many of us to hear about the Kingdom.—Read Psalm 119:60.
KEEP YOUR SENSE OF URGENCY
11. Why have some lost their sense of urgency?
11 Distractions can stop a person from thinking about how important the preaching work is. Satan uses this system of things to distract us from Jehovah’s service by trying to keep us busy with personal interests and things that are not important. (1 Peter 5:8; 1 John 2:15-17) Some people who at one time put Jehovah’s service first in their life lost their sense of urgency. For example, Demas was a Christian who worked along with the apostle Paul, but he later became distracted by the world. Instead of continuing to encourage Paul during a difficult time, Demas left him.—2 Timothy 4:10; Philemon 23, 24.
12. What opportunity do we have now? What opportunities will we have in the future?
12 If we want to keep our sense of urgency, we need to resist the temptation to do things that distract us from our preaching work. We should work hard to “get a firm hold on the real life.” (1 Timothy 6:18, 19) You no doubt believe that everlasting life on earth under God’s Kingdom will give us endless opportunities to enjoy interesting activities. But the opportunity we have now to help others survive Armageddon will never come again.
13. What can help us to keep our sense of urgency?
13 Most people in the world around us do not know Jehovah. So, what can we do to keep our sense of urgency? We need to remember that there may have been a time when we did not know God and we had no hope for the future. But we learned the truth about Jehovah and Jesus, and now we have the privilege of teaching others about the truth. (Read Ephesians 5:14.) 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.” (Ephesians 5:15, 16) In this wicked world, it is important that we use our time for activities that can keep us close to Jehovah.
WE LIVE IN A VERY IMPORTANT TIME
14-16. What makes Kingdom preaching more urgent now than ever before?
14 The Christian ministry has always been urgent. But now it is more urgent than ever before. Since 1914 we have seen many events happening on the earth exactly as the Bible foretold. (Matthew 24:3-51) All humans are threatened with destruction as never before. Even though the most powerful nations in the world have made peace agreements, they still have about 2,000 nuclear missiles that can be fired at any place on the earth. Authorities report hundreds of situations where nuclear material is missing and is said to be lost. Is it possible that terrorists have some of this nuclear material? Some people say that all humans could easily be destroyed by a war started by a terrorist. But war is not the only thing to threaten mankind’s survival.
15 A 2009 report by The Lancet and University College London says about our day: “Climate change is the biggest global health threat.” It said that the effects of climate change will affect the health of most people and put the lives of billions of people in danger. Many places could be destroyed because of rising sea levels, droughts, floods, diseases, hurricanes, and wars over shortages of supplies. There is no doubt that wars and disasters threaten mankind’s survival.
16 Some people might think that the danger of nuclear war could lead to the events that would fulfill Jesus’ prophecy about the last days. But most people do not understand the real meaning of Jesus’ prophecy. For many years, we have seen events showing that Christ’s presence is real and that the end of this system is near. (Matthew 24:3) Never before have we seen so many events of Jesus’ prophecy. It is time for people to realize that they need to have a relationship with God. Our ministry can help them.
17, 18. (a) How does living in the last days affect us? (b) What could cause people to become interested in the Kingdom message?
17 We have only a short time to prove our love for Jehovah and to finish the preaching work he gave us to do in the last days. What Paul told the Christians in Rome is even more important for us 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.”—Romans 13:11.
18 The events foretold for the last days can make people realize that they need to have a relationship with God. Some people become interested in the Kingdom message when they think of how human governments have failed. The governments have not been able to stop economic disasters, nuclear threats, violent crime, or the ruining of the earth. Others become interested in the Kingdom message because of problems in their own family, such as a health crisis, a divorce, or the death of a loved one. So when we are in the ministry, we can help these interested ones.
MOTIVATED BY A SENSE OF URGENCY
19, 20. How has their sense of urgency caused many Christians to make changes in their lives?
19 Because of their sense of urgency, many Christians make changes in their lives so that they can do more in the ministry. For example, a young couple in Ecuador 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 one-bedroom apartment, sold some things, and paid off all their debt. Soon they began auxiliary pioneering and accepted the circuit overseer’s suggestion to work with a congregation where there was a greater need.
20 A brother in the United States 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.” (Matthew 6:19-22) They owned three homes, land, expensive cars, a boat, and a motor home. Because they felt that they had wasted their time and energy on material things, they decided to make the full-time ministry their goal. In 2008 they joined their daughter in the regular pioneer service. It has been very rewarding for them to see how happy people are when they hear and understand the truth of God’s Word. The brother continues: “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.”
21. What knowledge makes us preach with a sense of urgency?
21 We know that “the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men” will soon end this wicked world. (2 Peter 3:7) Because of the knowledge we have of God’s Word, we preach with zeal about the coming great tribulation and the new world. We continue to have a deep sense of urgency in telling people about a real hope for the future. By doing as much as we can in this urgent work, we show true love for God and for people.
SOME EXPRESSIONS EXPLAINED
Sense of urgency: To be aware that preaching is important because lives are in danger and preaching can save lives
Christ’s presence: The period of time that Jesus Christ has been invisibly present after his enthronement in heaven as King in 1914
Spiritual sleep: To be unaware of or not to care about the need to know God
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The opportunity we have to help others survive Armageddon will never come again
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Events of the last days can make a person become interested in the Kingdom message