2 Kings 11-12; 2 Timothy 2; Hosea 3-4; Psalm 119:121-144
So much to contemplate in 2 Timothy this morning. Paul, who is imprisoned as he writes this letter states that he is “bound with chains as a criminal, but the word of God is not bound.” Even though Paul is “in chains” the gospel continues to be proclaimed; through Paul, through Timothy, through all of those who have been trained by Paul and the other apostles. I would guess that this might have been a very dark time for Timothy-we know from chapter 1 that he has been shedding tears, about what we are not told, but I wonder if perhaps it is for his spiritual father Paul, whose death has grown quite imminent. I think Paul’s message here is vital for us to understand in the times we live as well. We may begin to feel bound, but God is not bound.
More clearly, I think Paul’s advice to Timothy in verse 15 is good for me as well: “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.” Do your best. Now there is a simple line I do not always live up to. Imagine what dinner would be like for those who sit at my table if I did a half-hearted job. That paints an interesting picture for me-one of peanut butter sandwiches instead of roast beef because I did not take the needed time, one of rather scorched chicken because I was distracted-not my best for sure. How much more important is it to present myself to God as a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (Of course the obvious take-away here is that I need to spend time in the word to even begin to rightly handle it.)
“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.” -2 Timothy 2:22-25. Wow-where do I even begin. With action. Flee and pursue! (I am at an age where I am not sure I can even pursue youthful passions but I have plenty of middle-aged ones…) This is not something that is just going to happen-righteousness, faith, love peace-these are the things I am to pursue. And I do it on my own and I do it in fellowship with other believers. This next part seems to hit on a nerve these days. Anyone who ventures out in the world these days or is active on social media has seen the state of discourse in this country. There are a lot of foolish, ignorant controversies out there, they are finding their way into our homes, into our churches, and they most certainly have bred quarrels. But this is important-the Lord’s servant-of which I am one- MUST NOT BE quarrelsome but KIND TO EVERYONE. The Lord’s servant-of which I am one-must be able to teach, patiently endure evil, correct his opponents with GENTLENESS. Gentleness, patience...and do you know why? Because, God may perhaps grant them repentance, leading to a knowledge of truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil. (2 Timothy 2:25-26) Can it be that our quarrelsome ways, our less than gentle approach to people who disagree with us, is hindering God’s work in their lives? That is a very sobering thought.
Which brings me to Psalm 119 and my prayer for this morning as I close out my time:
Deal with Your servant according to Your steadfast love, and teach me Your statutes. I am Your servant; give me understanding, that I may know Your testimonies! (v.124-125)
Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul longs to keep them. The unfolding of Your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. (v.129-130)
Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is Your way with those who love Your name. Keep steady my steps according to Your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me. (v. 132-133)
Make Your face shine upon Your servant, and teach me Your statutes. (v. 135)
Righteous are You, O LORD, and right are Your rules. You have appointed Your testimonies in righteousness and in all faithfulness. (v. 137-138)
Your righteousness is righteous forever, and Your law is true. Trouble and anguish have found me out, but Your commandments are my delight. Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live. (v. 142-144)
Grace, peace, and mercy,