Journal 2 Tim 2 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “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.” 2 Tim 2:15
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to everyone—able to teach; patiently enduring evil; correcting opponents with gentleness.
God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses…” 2 Tim 2:24-26a
Observation: Aged Paul is giving young Timothy sound advice in teaching about the Way, sounding like Obi-Wan speaking to Luke…in a certain manner of speaking…
Analysis: The NIV translates 2 Tim 2:15a; “Study to show yourself approved…” The NASB translates 2 Tim 2:15b: “…accurately handling the word of truth.”
The implication is clear: Nose to the grindstone is the order of the day if you want to be Biblically astute and handle the Word of God in an accurate manner, not haphazardly.
In the beginning, I was a haphazard student: I read my Bible, I underlined or highlighted “cool” sounding verses, verses I thought pertinent to being a Christian. I was excited to find ‘truth” and was eager to share with LIKE MINDED friends of the Faith.
This is a significant statement: because when I shared these same things that lit up my heart and mind with some others, I reached obstacles and opposition. I got a significant correction that was not gentle. Concerning myself, I was quarrelsome, obstinate: I got stubborn, red-faced, tightlipped, and so much more. So, I got quieter, listened more. Compared what was taught and said to the Scriptures; tried to separate things into categories: Very Right, somewhat right, not right, and (significantly) TBD later—not enough information, background, or timing of life. (This last one is where Deut 29:29 comes into play: The secret things belong to God. Sometimes I have to grow in other ways to be able to understand more mature subjects.)
However, it works the other way, too. I can be on solid ground, biblically speaking: Doctrinal, historical, translational, etc., quotes, references, analysis…and face opposition because it does not line up with the position of the local church or the current position of American Christendom. Easy example: Prosperity teaching. If I offered a contrary position based upon Scripture, then I was without Faith. Another, more difficult, example is Election and the implications of God’s Sovereignty concerning Election.
Therefore, it is incumbent upon believers to press in and be a student of the Word. Obstinate, stubborn mental positioning is not Faith, it is just being stubborn. Not bad in the beginning, but if years and decades go by and that is all we have, then that stubbornness masquerading as Faith gets weaker and weaker.
After all, these are the objectives to shoot for:
- Doing my best concerning the Scriptures
- To be considered Approved handling the Scriptures and doing it right
- Able to teach without stubbornness, but gently and patiently going through the Scriptures, gently enduring evil (and dumb responses)
- That GOD may give repentance.
Something helpful from the last 20 years: I need to get used to Mystery. “I don’t know” can be the most theological statement of integrity a person can utter.
Just like in school, there are things I cannot learn without something other being learned first. We don’t teach 1st graders Algebra, you know…
Prayer: Precept by precept, principle by principle, doctrine by doctrine: Father, you give this instruction so learning can be structured and not just scripture memorization alone. It is our privilege to be able to humbly ask, “Why is it like this, Lord?” and know that you are pleased to answer your children—maybe not right away, but eventually.
Thank you so very much to not answer my dumb requests, but to answer those questions you want me to know about. Deut 29:29 is a godsend (pun intended).