Summary: The man of God is to not follow trends, fads, feelings, what people would like to hear, or to preach messages that make them feel "good". He is to preach the Gospel without compromise, apology, or fear and be committed to it no matter what happens around him.
The previous message based on 2 Timothy stated with the definition of diligence, being constant in one's efforts, finishing what you started, staying committed to the task and not quitting or getting distracted. It was also noted that preparation and thought go into this process. Do not start anything without going over all the details and determine if the idea, task, project, or ministry will be worth the effort and time to give to it. This is sound advice from the Lord Jesus when it comes to the issue of total commitment to Him and following Him as His disciple. I have come to believe that this is why some churches, for example, do not use the process of an "altar call", because it tends to draw people to the front of the church by making a "decision" for Jesus Christ in a state of emotion, or being pressured to "go forward" by a well-meaning friend, family member, or by the cries of the pastor after singing "one more verse". There is usually no sign of the potential "convert" ever coming back to church again following the brief spiritual "euphoria" they experienced. This is an example of not just a false convert, but a lack or sheer ignorance of diligence as it pertains to the condition of one's soul before God. Imagine the shock and terror facing that individual when he hears the Lord Jesus say that He never knew them (Matthew 7:21-23).
For the man who occupies the pulpit and holds the office and responsibility of a pastor/elder, diligence refers to not just a solid testimony and example of personal godliness, but it also includes humility and a reverent attitude before God, a love for His people, and fearlessly preaching the Word of God in spirit and truth. Diligence has been a characteristic for every true man of God called to "preach the Word" (2 Tim.4:1-5) and who desire to see that all people have the opportunity to hear the Gospel. Paul wanted to see that same diligence from Timothy and have the grit and determination to succeed in his calling. Diligence in ministry means getting the job done in the power of the Word and Spirit in spite of what the world thinks or does.
Timothy had problems with his flock in Ephesus, like all pastors have, both then and now. He had to deal with false teachers in the church, prejudice about his youth, conflicts concerning the care of widows, the issue of how to rebuke older members in love who espoused incorrect beliefs or doctrines, the constant threat of persecution from both the authorities and citizens who supported pagan deities such as Artemis, who had a huge temple dedicated to her, along with the sexual deviancy that was considered worship and a sign of devotion. As if the young pastor did not have enough on his plate, he also suffered from stomach problems that gave him constant discomfort. Paul's letter to Timothy was both a charge to persevere and to affirm that he was God's man for the job.
Paul first encourages Timothy to be diligent about preparing both himself and his people for what lay ahead (2:14-16). He was to prepare the next generation of elders to teach the truth of the Word. He is also to prepare himself as someone whose work and ministry has been approved by God Himself, and to not be ashamed of what he has done for the LORD in teaching the Scriptures and the doctrines of the faith. Every God-called man needs to stand brave and firm in his convictions. Timothy and the elders were also told to prepare themselves to withstand and rebuke any teaching or idle words that were contrary to the Scriptures and would lead to ungodly conduct and lives. Scripture is to govern our growth and development, and not someone's opinion or "feelings".
The issue of false teaching is of concern to Paul, and he urges Timothy to act on it and stop it in its tracks before it spreads like a cancer and envelops the entire body of believers. Heretics such as Hymaneus and Alexander had travelled throughout the region, proclaiming that there had never been a physical resurrection of Christ, but was only spiritual. This false teaching was known as Gnosticism, clearly in violation of the teaching of the Lord Jesus (John 5:24-30) and Paul (Acts 24:15). These two men were apostates (Hebrews.6:4-6) who had denied the faith and deserved the open rebuke from Paul. Timothy would have to correct this deception and assure his people that what he has been preaching to them was the truth from Scripture (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 2:19, 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Peter 1:19-21).
Paul instructed Timothy and his people to be diligent in their usefulness (2:20-21). Every member of the body of Christ has a purpose and calling to service in different areas and levels of responsibilities, and should do so with joy and contentment. We are not to seek favors, attention, or popularity, but to know that whatever we do for the LORD will not be overlooked (Matthew 25:21, 23; 2 Corinthians 5:10). as vessels of service, we are to keep clean in thought, word, and deed. We cannot do this on our own strength, but only through submission to His will and direction. We are to keep pure in body, word, and thought and maintain a love for God and the brethren (v.22). We are not to get involved in quarrels and foolish arguments which takes our focus away from the work that God has entrusted to both pastor and people (vv.23-26).