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Present yourself approved to God
2 Timothy 2:15 The difficulties of accurately handling the word of truth
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”
2 Timothy 2:15 NASB1995
Today’s verse comes from Paul’s second epistle to Timothy, one of the three pastoral epistles Paul wrote (the third is the epistle to Titus). They’re called pastoral epistles as they are letters addressed to those who were pastors in the early church, providing instruction from Paul about Christian living, church doctrine, and leadership in general.
Here, Paul is telling Timothy to stay on track and pay attention to his own life as well as his ministry. Timothy appears to have been a somewhat timid soul. In Paul’s letters to him, he’s often encouraging Timothy to be more courageous, a man of action, and to work hard and endure in his service to the Lord.
Paul begins this verse by reminding Timothy that he doesn’t need to be a popular pastor, but a faithful one. By presenting himself to his church as one approved to God through his faith and attention to the Gospel, Timothy would set a good example for others.
Looking at the next part of the verse, what would cause Timothy to be ashamed? Doing his job half-heartedly. In 2 Corinthians 5:10, we are warned that the work of each Christian will be subject to scrutiny at the judgment seat of Christ. Paul is giving Timothy another reason to work for the Lord with diligence, so he won’t be ashamed when his life’s work is inspected.
Finally, Paul points out that Timothy needs to focus on accurately handling the Word of God. This is probably one of the most difficult things for any pastor to do — knowing what God’s Word says and doesn’t say, and how it is meant to be understood. Timothy couldn’t just know a handful of Bible stories and verses, then use them in sermons for illustrative purposes — he was to correctly teach his church through an accurate handling of the Word of God. He’d need to present the essential doctrines of the faith, arranging and distributing them to his flock with correct interpretation.
The Bible should not be interpreted in such a way that it has a different meaning to each reader. Accurately handling the word of truth means that a sermon must not only be consistent with what is said in a particular passage, but also be inline with the full message of the Scriptures.
One of the most difficult things about writing these daily devotional is wondering if Barb and I are presenting our understanding of Scripture properly. We’ve repeatedly told readers the truth — that we’re not trained theologians, we’re not professional Bible commentators, and we’ve certainly never been through seminary. We are two people who love the Lord with all of our hearts, minds, and strength, and we have made the commitment to study and learn His Word through our research and writing.
We’ve both come to cherish the time that we spend writing our devotionals and prayers, primarily because it gives us the opportunity not just to read and ponder the Bible, but to dig deeply into the heart of the Word of God and search for the Scriptural interpretation. We both strive to “accurately handle the word of truth” to the best of our abilities, so that we will “not be ashamed” at the judgement seat.
That often means reading contradictory commentaries, studying similar verses for meaning, and even doing word studies in the original Hebrew or Greek to pull out the nuances of a phrase. We’re human and therefore fallible, but please understand that we are doing our best to dissect God’s Word with discernment and a heart for the truth. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us in this work.
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Father, thank You for Your Word of truth. I pray that by Your grace, You provide me with discernment and understanding as I study the Scriptures each day to discover what Your Holy Spirit will teach me. Guide me into Your truth, I pray in Jesus’ name. AMEN.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org.