Perhaps one of the most popular verses from 2 Timothy comes from our text this week, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
In this one verse there are three “calls”. The first call is to present “Ourselves to God as one approved.” Have you heard this call and responded in obedience? Do you seek the approval of others or are you living for God’s approval? The false teachers in Timothy’s church were probably looking for approval from others, but a true servant of God seeks approval only from our Heavenly Father. Now this may seem like an unattainable goal – how will we ever gain God’s approval? To work toward man’s favour seems more possible. But the truth is the very opposite. Man’s approval is fickle and fleeting, God’s approval is all of grace and is therefore enduring, and completely within our grasp.
Second, there is the call to be “a worker who does not need to be ashamed.” The picture that comes to mind is of those cooking shows where three contestants have their individual dishes judged. Sometimes they stand before the judge with no shame because they know they have done their best and presented a dish that is in accordance to what the judges want. Other times, the contestant stands with shame because they have completely ignored the instructions and the judges are obviously disappointed. How is it with you? At the end of the day will you be able to present your life unashamedly to God knowing that you have followed his directions and have lived a life that “pursued righteousness, faith, love and peace” (2 Timothy 2:22)?
Third there is a call to “correctly handle the word of truth.” The Greek word for “rightly handling” is orthos meaning “straight”. It is the basis for words like orthopedic, and orthodoxy. So Timothy is to teach the word of God without deviation, precisely, straight. In the words of John Stott, “The approved worker handles the Word with scrupulous care, staying on the path, avoiding the byways and making it easy for others to follow.”
Does that describe you? Do you rightly handle the word of God or do you simply use the word of God to promote your interests? There are many who treat Scripture like the giant buffet at the Golden Phoenix restaurant. They pick and choose what they want – ignoring the parts that challenge their lifestyle and goals but picking up great heaps of those chapters and verses that seem to agree with the way they are living and going in life. The word of God is not a buffet from which you can only pick what you agree with. It is food for the soul that “corrects, rebukes, and encourages” (2 Timothy 3:2) us in every situation.
There are three calls – a call to look up and seek God’s approval alone. There is the call to look in and live a life that reflects his character. And there is the call to look at the truth of God’s word and proclaim it faithfully.
May God find us faithful to his calling in our lives, Pastor Tom.