2 Timothy 2:14–26 comment (0)
By Jerry W. Batson
Related Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:14–26
Bible Studies for Life
Associate Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
Take Hold of Usefulness
2 Timothy 2:14–26
What percentage, do you suppose, of those who sit regularly in Sunday School classes are deeply desirous of being workers for God? Or, put the other way, how many do you think are preoccupied with secular interests or simply not inspired to be deeply involved in God’s work? Taking this lesson theme and its biblical passage to heart can motivate Christians to want to be more useful in God’s service. The passage unfolds in a series of contrasting possibilities about which the Bible admonishes us to make right choices.
Be Not Ashamed, but Approved (14–19)
Seeking God’s approval and avoiding shame depend on our desire, discipline and diligence. We must first want to be approved by God and then be willing to pay the price to gain His approval. Paul urged Timothy to give all diligence to avoid shame and gain approval. For Timothy, as for us, God’s approval centers on how God’s truth is handled. In Timothy’s case, he had to handle the word of truth with a view to teaching it faithfully and accurately. Others of us must rightly handle the word of truth from the angle of being learners. All of us must handle it correctly when it comes to living it out in daily life.
The right handling of the word of truth demands that we avoid deviating from the truth. At one level, we must be concerned about not deviating from it in what we believe. Timothy faced two individuals whose departure from the truth was especially serious; they claimed that the resurrection of believers was already past. Not only were they wrong but also their deviation from truth overturned others’ faith. At another level, we must not deviate from it by unrighteous behavior. A solid foundation underlies believers who turn away from sinful practices. Knowing that some professing Christians turn away from devotion to God, true believers find encouragement in the fact that the Lord knows who are His.
Both wrong beliefs and sinful conduct lead to shame. Faithfulness to the word of truth in precept and practice leads to God’s approval.
Be Not Ordinary, but Special (20–21)
Far too many Christians seem content to be ordinary. Some even take pride in being just an ordinary Christian. However, God expects us to be special in our usefulness in His service. Paul’s illustration serves us well in understanding being special. Some dishes are expensive and used only on special occasions. Other dishes are everyday and used for ordinary occasions. The challenge is to be special all the time because every day is a special opportunity to be of service to God. We can only serve as special vessels in divine service when we are continually purifying ourselves from sinful attitudes and practices. Clean vessels best serve the purposes of a holy God. When we are clean within and without, God can separate us from ordinary, run-of-the-mill Christians and use us in special ways. Only as we keep purged of impure motives, thoughts and actions are we prepared for good works.
Be Not Foolish, but Wise (22–26)
The Christian life has both positive and negative aspects. On the negative side are some foolish things to be avoided. Timothy, for example, needed to flee from youthful lusts. We should all seek to avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, since these foster strife and quarrels. Failure to flee from negative aspects that threaten Christian living plays into the devil’s purposes. Paul’s caution to Timothy was that failure to flee the negatives would lead to being taken captive by the devil.
On the positive side are wise things to be coveted and pursued. Righteousness (upright conduct), faith (faithfulness), love and peace are among such things. For Timothy, being the Lord’s servant meant he had to be gentle toward people, able to teach them and patient with them as he instructed them. Such qualities are commendable in all of us who are Christians. Gentleness and patience are always in order. Handling the word of truth so as to be equipped to teach or instruct others is a wise commitment for each of us to make.
The proverbial bottom line is that God uses believers who desire to be used and then set about staying useful to God.