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A WORKMAN APPROVED BY GOD

2 Timothy 2:14-2:26
Key Verse: 2:15

In chapter 1, we have learned to fan into flame the gift of God. In fanning God’s gift into flame, timidity was the obstacle that prevents us from doing so. However, what God has given us is not a spirit of timidity, but the spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.

In Chapter 2, we learned we can only be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus. With this strength in Him we can endure hardship like a good soldier of Christ who wants to please his commanding officer, like an athlete who competes for the victor’s crown according to the rules, and like a farmer who works hard for the crops. When we remember Jesus who suffered ahead of us and raised from the dead, we can endure and overcome suffering which comes as we guard and preach the gospel, and entrust it to faithful people in our generation.

Up until now, Apostle Paul has helped Timothy about what kind of servant he should be before God. But here in the second part, he teaches in a practical way how Timothy as a leader should deal with all the problems that could arise in the church.

We often think that I am not influential in our church. So this kind of words is only necessary for someone like Timothy, not for me. But Jesus saved us from the world soon about to fall and called us His disciples from the darkness into the light at this time. To those who are called, it is a very personal question: in what faith and in what manner should we live in our time? 2 Timothy teaches us clues about the answer to this question. I pray that God may make us aware of who we are and how to serve the gospel ministry as a worker approved by God.

Let’s look at verse 14. Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Paul instructs Timothy to keep reminding God’s people, especially the group leaders, of the gospel of Christ Jesus and also to warn them before God against quarreling about words. Here we see that there were quarreling about words in Ephesian church at that time. Based on 1 Timothy 1, we can guess what the quarrels were about. “…you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work … they want to be teachers of the law … contrary to the sound doctrine.” There were false doctrines, myths and genealogies, teachings of the law which mainly caused quarreling about words in the church.

There are a lot of controversies at any organization for various reasons. Many people see these conflicts as positive. It is thought that there should be quarrel in that the group grows normally and healthy. I do not know it be true in the communities of the world. But the church is fundamentally different from these in the world. The church is the body of Christ whose parts are connected to one another, centered on the Lord, the head. Jesus prayed in John 17, saying, “they may be one as we are one.” According to Jesus’ prayer, we need to be warned against quarreling about words. It is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. It hurts and separates the body. Furthermore, Satan always works through the broken gaps and cracks caused by quarreling about

words. We shouldn’t allow Satan to work and break it apart. So we must be very watchful of quarreling about words in our church.

What is it that Timothy should try harder than being involved in quarreling about words? Let us read verse 15. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Timothy should try to do his best to present himself to God. God called us to work together for his kingdom. Because we work together, sometimes it is easy for us to be tempted to present ourselves to people, wanting to be approved not only by God, but also by people as a good worker. Moreover, especially at the time of controversies, many people are more and more tempted to try to prove their right to others. To Timothy it was easy to fight against those who caused conflict. But Paul tells Timothy to do his best to present himself to God even in times of quarreling. He also asks him to do his best to be approved by God as a workman. Here we can learn the secret to overcome quarreling about words. Not only should we warn one another against it, but also we must do our best to present ourselves to God. I pray that we may do our best to present ourselves to God and we may believe that God is the sovereign ruler of all things who works among us.

Let us look at verse 15 again. Then who is the one approved by God as well as by people? First, the one approved is a worker who does not need to be ashamed. Paul modelled ‘workman’ as one approved. Although Timothy is in the position of a leader or a manager, he must have the attitude of a workman who works hard before both God and his people shamelessly. When doses a worker become ashamed? Workers become ashamed generally when they become lazy and when they work falsely and hypocritically. When God’s word and our lives don’t go together, we feel ashamed. When there is an unrepentant sin in our inmost heart, we are ashamed, even working hard. But whenever we repent of our shameful sins, the Lord gives us a new heart, new strength, and new hope. In his forgiveness we can take courage again to work hard as workers approved by God. I pray that we may try hard to present ourselves to God as shameless workers by depending on his grace.

Secondly, the one approved is those who correctly handles the word of truth. Here we see what is to be done when quarreling about words arise. It is to handle the word of truth correctly. In other translation(KJV), it says; rightly divide the word of truth. Dividing the word of truth is still not clear, but close to the original meaning. The Greek word for “correctly handles” means “cut rightly.” Greeks used this word for cutting the stone to fit it into its correct place in the structure of the building. If a mason cuts a stone either too big or too small and lays it in its place, he will knock the structure of the building out of balance. Based on this, handling the word of truth correctly means ‘understanding the Word of truth rightly and applying it correctly to the right place so that it can work in balance. How then can we understand the Word of truth correctly? To do this, we pay our full attention to what the word of God says through the passage. We need to meditate on God’s Word like the Psalmist to understand its meanings. We must also be deeply ingrained in his words in person. For this we need to come to the presence of God personally, sometimes through one to one, reflection writings and worship services. When we receive the Word deeply as ours, the Word works in our hearts like a sharp sword. It leads us to repentance and let us encounter the LORD in person. And that word of truth also enables us to apply it correctly to the other. It is very interesting that apparently, we seem to handle the word of truth as the passage says, but in fact, if we are ingrained in the word deeply, the word, actually through the Holy Spirit, makes us understand the truth correctly into the different level.

Along with observing and understanding the Word of truth correctly, we can also see that the application must also be done rightly. Let’s imagine a spiritual building. If comfort and patience are placed where rebuke and repentance are required, the part will be weakened or rotten. On the other hand, if there placed rebuke and admonition in the place where forgiveness and perseverance are needed, that part may also be broken. The building may be at risk. It sounds not easy at all to be approved as a spiritual building worker.

Thus just as Mason is trained and practiced for the work, we also need training and practice to observe the word of truth attentively and understand it properly and apply it correctly. But we soon realize the limit despite doing so. We have limitations in handling the word of truth correctly. It is impossible without the present help of the Holy Spirit. In fact, because the Holy Spirit works through the Word, we must seek the help of the Holy Spirit entirely in prayer. Here is why we cannot rely on our own understanding and knowledge, but only depend on God.

I thank God for his grace, hope and vision upon our church, Toronto University Bible Fellowship. God has used us preciously as Bible teachers for campus students for the last more than three decades and with his hope God has fed so many campus students with the word of truth. I pray that God may continue to help us to grow as excellent Bible teachers who correctly handle the word of truth. You may continue to raise faithful Bible teachers among us and through us. I pray that each one may have such vision before God to grow and to be used as a good Bible teacher.

16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly, 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.

Let’s look at verses 16-18. What Timothy should do is also to avoid godless chatter. KJV expressed ‘Godless chatter’ as ‘profane and vain babblings’. Godless chatter has strong influence like yeast. It will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching spreads like gangrene and makes listeners wander away from the word of truth. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.

While quarreling directly ruins the hearer, the godless chatter doesn’t immediately damage the listener, but the influence gradually increases. If the former is hurting with a sharp object, the latter is gradually blocking the blood vessels and necrotize the cells, so they will fall apart from the word of truth like the gangrene. So godless chatter should be avoided from beginning, because it spreads in a tricky and fatal way.

There are a lot of interesting topics to talk about nowadays. And there are many new and different approaches and methodologies. Peoples’ ears are easily attracted to the new ideas. But if they are godless, we should avoid them. Even in understanding the word of truth, philosophical,

humanistic, and scientific approaches and so on are widely being addressed. But if they exclude Gods divinity and power in understanding Gods words, then it will be right for us to avoid them. It is because it becomes more and more godless, and eventually will destroy our faith.

19 Nevertheless, Gods solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription” “The Lord knows those who are his, and everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.

Lets read verse 19. In these matters in the church, however, Timothy could have faith and hope when he believes in the Lord, the head of the church and the sovereign ruler of all things. The Lord solidifies His foundation and protects his flock of sheep from wickedness.

Lets read verse 19. In these matters in the church, however, Timothy could have faith and hope when he believes in the Lord, the head of the church and the sovereign ruler of all things. The Lord solidifies His foundation and protects his flock of sheep from wickedness.

20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21 If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

Lets look at verse 20-21. Paul gives a metaphor of articles in a large house. The articles are to be used for some purposes. The house owner uses them whenever he or she wants to. Some are made up of gold and silver, others of wood and clay. Which one is to be used only belongs to the Master. The articles cannot say why me or why not me. And they cannot compare to each other. But there is one condition for them to become useful. The Master cannot use the dirty one no matter how precious they are. Even if it is of wood and clay, but clean, it can be used preciously for the Master’s purposes. As a servant of God, we need to first cleanse ourselves through repentance and keep ourselves holy and useful to the Master for a good purpose. One of concrete examples is as follows;

22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Lets read verse 22. Evil desires of youth is translated as ‘youthful lusts’ in KJV. The word ‘flee’ is very active and dynamic, but it sounds a little bit cowardly. We should not escape from Satan, but we must flee from youthful lusts. When serving together in the church it is easy to be tempted by evil desire of youth such as lust and greed. Paul didnt even say avoid it, but flee it, because there is no other way but to flee in order to keep ourselves clean and holy from youthful lusts. But running away is not enough. We are so weak in lust that we can turn around and go back. So you have to run away directionally in setting our direction to pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. In Genesis, Joseph was not tempted by the persistent temptation of his master’s wife, nor did he even go around her. Once she did catch and didnt release him, he desperately fled away from her with his clothes torn. As another different example, when David did not flee from the lust right away, it devoured him at once to make him fall into the sins of adultery and murder. The sting of lusts is pervading the hearts of our society and individuals more than ever. Today there is a trend that lust is seen as a disease or disorder that needs to be medically treated rather than seen as a sin to repent before God. It is a tricky way to escape from repentance as making an excuse. I pray that we may repent of the sin of lust and pursue his righteousness, faith, love and peach together with pure hearts without compromising with the trend of this world. In pursuing these heavenly virtues, we may find heavenly pleasures.

23 Dont have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. Verse 23 tells us to do not have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because they produce quarrels. Once the religious leaders brought an argument to Jesus to trap him. There was a family with seven brothers. A woman married one. But without children her husband died. In order to give the dead brother children, the woman married another brother, but that brother died too and she went down the line until all seven brothers are dead without children. At the resurrection, whose wife will the woman be? As Jesus answered, if they knew about resurrection correctly, they would not bring such an argument? On another occasion, there have been ongoing controversy among Jesus disciples. The subject of the argument was: Who is the greatest among them in the kingdom? Who will sit next to Jesus? Had they been more concerned about Jesus, would they have brought such an argument even to the last super time? Therefore, as we become more concern about the most important one which is Jesus, we realize that many arguments may be unnecessary. The more we know his Word deeply, the smaller the controversies become.

24 And the Lords servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Lets read verses 24-26. Paul refers to the attitude of the Lords servant. We shouldn’t be quarrelsome. We must be kind, able to teach and not resentful. We must gently instruct the opponents. Why does Lords servant have to teach everyone in this manner? Lords servant is not to fight in arguments and to win them, but to help them to be able to reach repentance and a knowledge of the truth. And finally, so that they may be saved from Satan.

Heavenly Father, I thank and praise You for saving me through Jesus Christ from eternal condemnation. As reflecting myself on your words, I couldnt help but cry out due to my spiritual reality before You. I find myself compromising too easily with the evil desire of lust, and committing sin of lust too lightly and senselessly. I pray that I may come in fear and trembling heart before you in prayers, not only to flee from lust through repentance, but also to do my best to present myself to God as one approved and as a Bible teacher. I want to repent of my sins that I have not received your Word in the right heart and attitude. I remember how wonderful it is when your words come into my heart and touch and cleanse my heart and life. I pray that I may receive your words as mine through BSs, reflection-writings, and worship services. In this way I may be keeping myself holy and useful in order to be used for the gospel ministry at U of T. I pray that you may raise many workers who are approved by You in our church as well as in U of T campus.

In Conclusion, through todays passage, we have learned what we must actively avoid as spiritual leaders of our day. At the same time, we have learned what we should do our best as workers called by God. I pray that each of us may do our best to present ourselves to God as a worker approved by God who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. As avoiding godless things and fleeing from youthful desires, we may be holy and useful to our Master for his wonderful purposes. Amen.

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