II Timothy 4:5 “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
Paul’s race is coming to an end and his young comrade is standing in the wings about ready to relieve the aged warrior. In the closing chapter of his letter to Timothy, Paul gets extremely personal. Before his exit, Paul as a spiritual mentor will leave Timothy with some final words of wisdom. In verse 5, Paul reminds his replacement of four aspects that characterize the successful minister of the gospel. He will speak of alertness, afflictions, activities, and appearance. I want to take a moment and emphasize Paul’s thoughts on appearance.
When Paul considers the subject of appearance, he said, “make full proof of thy ministry.” The writer of Hebrews reminds us that we “are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). Timothy is to be aware of the fact that he is the subject of visible scrutiny! People are constantly monitoring the man and his ministry. That which is true of Paul’s young comrade is true for each of us! We all have people watching. Paul emphasizes this when writing to the saints in Rome; “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself” (Romans 14:7). Paul is clear as to what kind of image is to be set forth. There are two terms that give clarity to what Paul is saying. The phrase, “make full proof” means to carry out fully in evidence, to completely assure or convince, to accomplish entirely. The word “ministry” means attendance as a servant, official service especially that of a Christian teacher. When combined, Paul is saying that Timothy is to conduct himself in a manner before the scrutinizing eye of society so as to make it fully evident and give complete assurance that he has accomplished entirely the labors associated with the official service of God’s minister. There is to be no question in the minds of those that watch that Timothy has proven to be God’s man! While we may not be called to pastor a church or go to the mission field, each of us has the call of God upon our lives; “we are ambassadors for Christ” (II Corinthians 5:20). Each of us should live in such a manner that it becomes totally clear in the minds of those that are watching that we have given sufficient evidence to warrant being called a Christian! Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
After being monitored by the scrutinizing eye of the world, it was said of the saints at Antioch, “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). Can what was said of them be said of you? People are watching!