You will hear many things and see many things in your life time. If you live long enough, you will see people make their meteoric rise to fame and their dazzling appearance. Perhaps they will burn brightly for a year or a decade but then they’ll fade. They’ll make their impressions and wow people you thought had more insight and discernment.  You may even wonder if you should modify your approach and adjust your behaviour and tinker with your thinking and release your grip on what you believe to be the truth.

The Apostle Paul was in his final days of service on earth. In fact, he was in prison in Rome, awaiting execution. Impressive men with great ability were making their rounds and making their impressions on believers in various places. Some seemed to be obsessing on single issues and splitting hairs over certain words. The hearts of some believers were withering. In some instances, the negative effects were spreading like a cancer. (2Timothy 2:17)

From prison, Paul wrote Timothy, instructing him to tell the Christians in Ephesus to stop the bickering and arguing over such words at once. In so many words, Paul was saying –

Warn them of the disastrous results if they continue down that track. No good will be accomplished; in fact, the hearers will be ruined – the Greek word is katastrophe. And yes, it is a real catastrophe if you or I or any other Child of God should ever get off track for God. To be off God’s track is to be on the wrong track in life. A catastrophe.

 That’s precisely what Paul is communicating to Timothy from his prison cell before he was martyred.

Then Paul says:

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2Timothy 2:15

Yes, this matter requires your personal best.  You can’t afford to be slack in this area. You can be slack with flossing and you will just get more cavities. You can be less-than-diligent in managing your personal budget and it will only mean you will struggle financially. But when it comes to your spiritual well-being and your usefulness for the Lord, you cannot afford to be slack. Do your best. Be eager. Be diligent. Be disciplined.

It’s not about presenting yourself to Olympian judges for their scoring or for their kudos. No – Timothy, do your level best to please God and win His smile of approval – even if it means taking some heat. Don’t preach to get amen-shouts from your audience. It’s not a political rally where, by slamming the opponent, you whip-up excitement and endorsement.

There are only two kinds of workers who teach the Scriptures – those who are approved by God and those who are ashamed before God. Go for the former.

The ‘approved’ worker is the one who knows his Bible and his God. He won’t run with a verse out of context and try to teach something that fits with his own thinking or to find favour with certain people.  Rightly dividing or handling the truth conjures up an image of a well-designed road through rough and rugged terrain – a road that minimizes the hassles and hazards of travelling by being straight, simple and safe.

Teach the Word of God straight. Keep it simple. And be sure what you teach is safe and accurate in God’s sight. Don’t get out of balance or become lopsided. The Bible is a big book and doctrine is expansive. Don’t obsess over a word or get stuck on an issue.

Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.

Warmly in Christ
Peter Ramsay

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