24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 2 Timothy 2:24
More than 25 years ago, Dr. Joseph Stowell, then President of Moody Bible Institute in a chapel service said, “For some reason Evangelical Christians are an angry people.” His observation was true at the time and seems almost prophetic now. He’s right. We are angry, and much of it is related to politics. Jesus did teach there was a time to be angry, but it’s not all the time or whenever a politician says something we don’t agree with.
When we’re angry we cease being kind. The anger manifests itself in unusual ways, and then we become miserable.
We probably should do an audit on the things that make us angry. Are we justified in being angry? Should we just “let go” of some of the more trivial things that anger us? We, of course, need the Holy Spirit to help us with this. If we are to shun our anger and put on kindness, then we may need supernatural help. We can’t do it on our own, especially if we have a history of anger.
23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 2 Timothy 2:23
Arguing with someone who doesn’t see your point of view is often a waste of time. In matters related to relevant doctrine, it’s important, but if it doesn’t have eternal significance, it’s best not to engage. If the subject matter riles you up without any visible release or satisfaction, what’s the point?
In the internet age it’s easy to have heated discussions online, but again, why do it? Do I think anything I say is going to persuade someone who is as stubborn as I am over the issue? Hardly. They’ll probably dig in even further.
Discussion is one thing but getting hostile over it is quite different. If you lose your temper over their responses it might be a bad witness. Could your time be spent better doing something else? Probably. Anything would be better than getting flustered over people who will never get your point of view.
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. 2 Timothy 2:22
Paul continued to remind Timothy (and us by extension) what to flee and what to pursue. Just because you’ve fled one thing doesn’t mean you’ll pursue something else. But these instructions were clear. We need to be reminded because life happens. But if it’s always in the forefront of our minds, we’re more likely to remember. If you’ll notice, though, there are four qualities we are to pursue plus people. We cannot underestimate the power of extending gentle hands and kind words can mean.
Reach out today to someone you haven’t talked to in a long time. Just reach out and let the Lord guide the conversation.
20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. 2 Timothy 2:20-21
Paul continued to reference God’s house with the firm foundation but took it one step further. What about the objects in the house, the people? Some are living there but aren’t that useful. This certainly does not have anything to do with salvation but usefulness in the kingdom.
I know we all experience times of usefulness and uselessness depending on what’s happening in our world at the moment. I believe Paul is referring to those who aren’t even trying anymore, those who have given up. It seems as though he’s saying to just move on from those people. That’s a tough pill to swallow, isn’t it, especially when you recognize the trait in someone you care about. But God is sovereign. He can soften hearts and motivate people to live life to the fullest. Sometimes, though, entrusting Him to do just that is next to impossible.
You’re probably thinking about that person right now. Now’s the time to life that person up to the Father for only He can change hearts.
19 Nevertheless, God’s 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.” 2 Timothy 2:19
Within that one verse are two axioms that will get you through life. Actually, they go hand in hand. Because the Lord knows those who are His, we ought to turn away from wickedness.
The Scriptures can be as complex as the scholars make it or easy enough for the lay person to read and understand. God knew there would be people of both minds. Some thrive on the intricacies and nuances, while others admire the simplicities.
This Christian life is a daily walk. Even though we know we are His, we still have to live in the day-to-day, nitty-gritty of life. The struggles and battles we face are worth it even though at the time it seems unfair and unreasonable. Still, though, He has promised He would walk with us through every valley. He is worthy of our trust.
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 departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 2 Timothy 2:16-18
Hymenaeus and Philetus erred in their doctrine of the resurrection. Another translation of “godless chatter” is vain babblings. The key to this is being able to recognize when heresy is being preached. In Bible-believing, Spirit-filled churches, leadership should catch and root out such errors quickly. Most in the congregation should be able to recognize it too.
But Satan is the great deceiver. He can still worm his way into well-meaning churches. As the Day of His Appearing approaches, Satan will put on a “full court press” to deceive even more believers. He doesn’t let up just because we’re saved. In fact, we should experience more attacks the closer we get to God.
Walking close to God is a two-edged sword, so to speak. We get the blessings from a close relationship, but we will be heavily attacked. Fortunately, the God of the entire universe is right at our side during those attacks.
15 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. 2 Timothy 2:15
I recall thirty years ago in Air Force basic training all the inspections our Training Instructor conducted. Every little detail on the uniform was perfect. Shoes were spit shined. No facial hair. There was a method to their madness because they wanted to make sure we were all uniform in our learning. They didn’t care about the shine on the boots. They were concerned with us obeying their simple instructions. We presented ourselves to our instructor so that six weeks later he could present us to his superiors in a formal parade.
Similarly, we are in training now every day as we wait for that Blessed Hope. What we do here on earth matters. We should not be ashamed of what we have accomplished if we’ve “correctly handled the word of truth.” What does that mean? Simply put, have we been faithful? Have we sought the Lord in everything we’ve done? Have we leaned on Him in our darkest hour?
Going back to the Air Force story. Because we prepared for Parade Day by doing what we did every day, Parade Day came without a single glitch. It was a mere formality.
As we prepare for the Day of His Appearing, let us live for His glory, doing the things we already know He wants us to do.
14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 2 Timothy 2:14
You may have noticed but Paul was in the habit of reminding people about basic Biblical truths. There’s a reason for that: we forget. With so much swirling around in our heads and in front of our eyes each day, it’s a wonder we can even function. We need reminders quite often. You’ll see this from the pulpits on Sundays. Pastors don’t teach a lot of new ideas or truths. There’s no need to. If we only stuck to the basics, our lives would be so much better, and we would be much more content. But we complicate matters.
The basics in basketball, football, baseball and pretty much every other sport is drilled into athletes. Why? Because sticking to the basics is a fundamental principle in sports. And so it is in the Christian life.
Love others. Love God. Pray. Read the Bible. Fellowship with others. Love God and love others.
These are the basics.
11 Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
12 if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
13 if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself. 2 Timothy 2:11-13
These words were written in light of the previous few verses on suffering. They are encouraging for those who have undergone suffering for His name. The words encourage because when people suffer for Christ, they often feel like they’re all alone, like Elijah felt after calling down fire from heaven and destroying the 450 false prophets (1 Kings 19:3-18).
Some of you reading this will be called on to suffer for Christ. You don’t know who you are now but when the time comes, these words will ring true. You will not like suffering – who does really? – but you will endure because you know that your suffering is not in vain. I pray that you will remain true to the Word of God and be bold when the time comes. You may be called to preach the word of God with your captors and those in authority above them. Be bold, knowing that the Holy Spirit will give you words to say at the time and that He is with you every step of the way. Amen.