What do we do with God’s Word once we hear it?
German poet and philosopher Goethe stated “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” Simply put, Goethe believed that having knowledge requires doing something with that knowledge in order for it to be effective. I believe that unknowingly, Goethe was summarizing what had already been stated many years prior… that we’re required to do something with scripture we read.
Several weeks ago I wrote a commentary on Ephesians and its relationship to the men in my men’s group. In the commentary I wrote how many times I observed men use their job and their accomplishments as a ‘business card’ of sorts to define who they were, instead of responding that they were son’s of the Living God and all works in progress. But… how do we get through difficult times? Being a work in progress is a good starter about who we are, but is there ever an end point in the progression process? And when difficult times surround us, does progress stop?
I thought it fitting that today’s reading, based on 2 Timothy 2, answers those questions through strength and perseverance!
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also… 2 Timothy 2:1-2
When thinking back on how much what men do defines them… we’re doers… fixers… leaders. But I don’t think of this as a gender-related issue… rather a perspective we all need to consider when it comes to our role in God’s plan for the church… just as the apostle Paul did in chapter 2 of his second letter to Timothy. While I understand from a practical perspective we just quit our job and move on, but in my opinion, we need to pray and pray hard for wisdom and discernment from God. These can help to provide clarity as to where God would like us to be, just as Paul reminded Timothy to never be ashamed of Christ or his fellow disciples, and that Timothy was a part of something God has done for him and wants to do for others through him.
Here, Paul, modeling these important instructions, with love and compassion, in this passage and throughout his letters, Paul addresses Timothy as his child, a term of endearment conveying parental authority… I’m telling you this as my spiritual son, so listen up.
Additionally, Paul’s words are usually translated at the beginning of 2 Timothy 2 as be strong, putting the weight on Timothy as his source of strength during difficult times. However, there are direct translations that speak Paul’s words as be strengthened, thus clarifying the source of strength, through grace from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and not coming from within. So, too, does Paul’s words apply to us as we go through life… we need to be continuously strengthened through prayer to Jesus and by experiencing His grace.
The apostle directed his disciple to the grace of Jesus even before instructing Timothy about his role in the process. What Paul pointed out applies to us. We need to be continuously strengthened by experiencing fresh infusions of the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
And like Timothy, we need to be strengthened as we have work to do in God’s kingdom. And, like Timothy, we’re charged with delivering God’s word to others… 2 Timothy 2:2 states “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” In this verse, Paul was reminding Timothy that a majority of what he needed to share was received by word of mouth as Biblical instruction was done in the New Testament… by direct word of mouth. Paul’s message was confirmed in the presence of many witnesses and his role was established by entrusting it to faithful men, meaning to bring it before reliable individuals who will teach God’s Word and pass it along, a test of faithfulness. How many of us take what we’ve learned and entrust it to others? Certainly an area where we could all do better…
We, as God’s children, cannot continue to simply gather and read God’s Word. Instead, like Paul, we’re called to be disciples who spread God’s Word… receiving It and giving It away… only then, can we experience the strengthening power God desires to provide.