“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles to word of truth.”
2 Timothy 2:15
One of my favourite verses is 2 Timothy 2:15. Nearly forty years ago I used this verse as my year book quotation as I was graduating from High School. It was a verse that had captured my attention as I had first begun to feel that the Lord was calling me into full time Christian service. It is a verse which has stuck with me all these years. Recently I was delighted to discover that it was a verse that Charles Haddon Spurgeon used as he introduced a catechism to his congregation. His purpose was to lead the people of God into the security which comes from being firmly anchored in Biblical doctrine. This is one of our purposes in the building of the Church, to discuss and apply biblical doctrine to our lives so that we will be living securely in this Christian life.
To look carefully at this verse we find that we can highlight a number of the words that the Apostle Paul uses here. The first is the word at the beginning of the sentence which means to show full diligence, fully applying ourselves, or acting with full and speedy commitment. This is what Spurgeon meant when he wrote in An All Around Ministry (London: banner of Truth Trust, 1972, p. 125).
“Brothers, I beseech you, keep to the old gospel, and let your souls be filled with it, and then may you be set on fire with it! When the wick is saturated, let the flame be applied. “Fire from heaven” is still the necessity of the age. They call it “go,” and there is nothing which goes like it; for when the fire once starts upon a vast prairie or forest, all that is dry and withered must disappear before its terrible advance. May God Himself, who is a consuming fire, ever burn in you as in the bush at Horeb! All other things being equal, that man will do most who has the most of the Divine fire. That subtle, mysterious element called fire – who knoweth what it is? It is a force inconceivably mighty. Perhaps it is the motive force of all forces, for light and heat from the sun are the soul of power. Certainly fire, as it is in God, and comes upon His servants, is power omnipotent. The consecrated flame will, perhaps consume you, burning up the bodily health with too great ardour of soul, even as a sharp sword wears away the scabbard; but what of that? The zeal of God’s house ate up our Master, and it is but a small matter that it should consume His servants.”
The second word I want to highlight here is the one translated as one approved. This word has as its meaning “to be found genuine because you have passed the test.” Here is a word that was applied to the testing of an object, especially of coins, so that their genuineness can be demonstrated. What Paul means here is that we will be tested so that the genuine reality of our Christian profession can be demonstrated.
Thirdly, Paul uses a word that means to present ourselves for service. It means to be standing close beside the leader, ready for action. We all know about those times when volunteers are needed and we find some moving to the front of the group so that they will be included. Others are looking around at the ground or moving to the back of the group. They do not want to be seen as uninterested, but they also do not want to be picked.
Finally Paul uses a word here which means to cut a straight line. The meaning here is that we are called to understand, apply, and consistently follow the clear teaching of God Word in every part of our lives. Real, genuine Christian faith is a powerful thing as it is lived out in our world. We live in times when such Christian faith is desperately needed. May we be found faithful.