Serve the Lord without reservation, without retreating and without regret – a sermon on 2 Timothy 4:9-22 by Rev Colin Pretorius.
It has become fairly common today for children to be given big gifts when they turn 18 or when they finish school. Some might even get a new car. But very few would get the type of gift that William Borden got when he finished high school in 1904. You see, young William’s family was quite rich. One report I read said that William was a millionaire when he finished school. So what did his family give him as a graduation present: a world cruise! It was supposed to be one long pleasure experience, but as he travelled through the Near East and the Far East, something happened. The plight of the millions upon millions of people who were living in spiritual darkness transformed his heart. So on his return, instead of going into the family business as expected, he enrolled at Princeton University where he studied for 7 years, including 3 years in seminary. At some stage during those years of study, he wrote these two words in the back of his Bible ‘No reserve.’ As his studies progressed his family pleaded with him to take over the business but he insisted that God’s call to the mission field was far more important, and he disposed of all his wealth. Two more words were then added to the inscription in his Bible: ‘No retreat’. When he finished his training, he set out on his way to the East where he was going to witness to the Muslims. But on the way he contracted cerebral meningitis and died within a month. After his death, someone was looking through his Bible and discovered the final inscription: ‘No regrets.’ No reserve, no retreat, no regrets.
Brothers and sisters, this type of faithfulness to God’s calling is also evident in our passage today. Paul has been instructing young pastor Timothy about the gospel of grace, mercy, peace, power and eternal life. He’s warned him about the difficulties that those who preach God’s Word can expect. He’s been quite clear in his teaching about what Christian life ought to look like. And all his readers have been reminded of the awesome task of preserving God’s Word not only by making sure it is proclaimed but also especially by being living examples of the Word.
In the final 14 verses of this letter, Paul highlights some of his needs and disappointments but those are in a sense covered over by his words of trust and assurance and grace. Paul’s final words to Timothy paint a picture of his service to the Lord – they are a picture of the attitude with which he has served His God. They show how he has served God without reservation, without retreating in the difficult times and also without regretting that service.
• Without reservation;
• Without retreating; and
• Without regret.