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Do Your Best

I was listening to a sermon the other morning on the way to work. I won’t mention the name of the preacher, because that really isn’t the point I’m trying to make. He was dealing with 2 Timothy 4:9 where Paul pleads with Timothy to “Do your best to come to me quickly (NIV).” Paul missed Timothy. He loved Timothy. In fact, the preacher pointed out that although Paul had already implied how much he longed for the appearing of Jesus Christ (vs. 8, “all who have loved His appearing“), he nevertheless longed to see Timothy too.

There really is no substitute to seeing one another. And so Paul encouraged Timothy with these words, “do your best.” It wasn’t a harsh command. It wasn’t an executive order. But the words seem to be filled with the love and affection of a father for a son, or of a close friend, or even a brother. Do your best. Paul urged him with words that demonstrated his supreme interest in seeing him. This was no “indifferent” plea. It was not simply “come if you can.” It was “do your best.” Make as much effort as you possibly can, Timothy, for I truly miss your company and companionship. Paul was in jail. Others had left him. He was lonely for human contact. Timothy, please, do your very best.

And then the preacher paused a moment. He looked at his Sunday morning congregation (I was only listening to the audio, but I can almost picture him in my mind), and with what I think was similar affection, tenderness, and love said to them, “Dear ones, do your best to come back Sunday night to church. Do your best.” There was no harsh tone, or angry scolding. There was no extended guilt trip. It was the plea of what I take to be a loving shepherd to his flock. “Do your best to come back Sunday night to church.” Do your best.

Maybe you think that is a rather strange request. If so, I’m afraid you know very little about the heart of a pastor. Most pastors spend the better part of their week preparing to preach to their people. And many of them, like myself, are convinced that the practice of worshipping at the beginning and ending of the Lord’s Day is one of the best ways to demonstrate our love and faithfulness to the Lord and to encourage one another. It’s one of the main ways we grow.

Later that same day while leaving work I happened to peek at Facebook and noticed a quote shared by a pastor friend. The quote was from a respected modern preacher, but I’ll omit his name again as my point is not to highlight certain personalities. The quote read “The most daring thing you can say in an American context is take them [children] to evening church. God help us if we have abandoned evening church.” Having heard the loving admonishment about evening worship on my way to work, and then again by another respected pastor, I wanted to share these things with others. I had to write.

Dear Christian friends, I would say to you all, do your best to gather for worship twice every Sunday. Start the day in worship, and end the day in worship. Begin to take some steps to make this a part of your life. Some of you do not go to church at all. I understand the hurt, disappointment, and pain caused by the failures of church leaders and others. But gathering together is primarily to worship the Lord, and often we must do so in less than perfect settings in this life. Don’t look for a perfect church. Find a good one. And start and end the day in worship. Just do your best.

Some of you work on Sunday. Some jobs demand it. But do your best. Can you possibly change your schedule? I have known Christians who opted to work every Saturday so they could have every Sunday off. Just do your best. I think I can say confidently that your pastor would like to see you at both services. I think I can say confidently that he misses you when you are not there. He prepared hard for both services. It would surely encourage him if you could come twice. Just do your best.

Some of you don’t have an evening service at your church. Do your best to find someplace that you can go to worship on Sunday evening too. Could you ask your pastor about evening worship? Maybe, if you are a pastor, you could personally start attending evening worship as an example to your flock, and eventually think about adding an evening worship service too. I’m just thinking out loud. The point of this post is this: do your best.

Paul’s words to Timothy were undoubtedly communicated with love. They were a tender plea from a preacher who longed to see his son in the faith. I’m not an apostle. I’m not even a pastor. But I hope that I have some measure of sympathy and love for the souls of my friends, enough love to want what is good for them. I personally love to see fellow Christians, and worship with them on Sundays. So for what it is worth, and to whomever happens to read this post, I say with all my heart: Do your best.

Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash

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