By Russ Ramsey
Today’s passage reads like a list of applications for the Christian life. So for today’s devotional, let me approach it that way—as a list.
Be diligent to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth. —2 Timothy 2:15
We are co-laborers with Christ in the Gospel (1Corinthians 3:9, Colossians 4:11). Since that is what we are, Paul tells Timothy the most logical thing he could, in essence saying, “This is important work you’re called to. Study the story, hone your craft.” This text calls us to be invested in kingdom work, passionate to serve and glorify Christ, always growing in spiritual maturity, always pursuing discernment, always serving with the best you have, always studying His Word, always pursuing maturity and usefulness.
Charge them before God not to fight about words. This is useless and leads to the ruin of those who listen…Avoid irreverent and empty speech, since those who engage in it will produce even more godlessness… —2 Timothy 2:14, 16
Aim for every word that comes from our mouths to be edifying. Some of the quarrels Paul addresses were pointless quibbles, which he says led into “more and more” ungodliness. These arguments will never end. They turn people against each other and waste precious time.
Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, because you know that they breed quarrels. —2 Timothy 2:22–23
With the call to flee youthful passions comes the call to pursue the kind of spiritual maturity many call “discernment.” Paul tells Timothy, you know foolish controversies “breed quarrels” (2Timothy 2:23). Knowing this is useful. Certain behaviors yield certain results, and we do well to discern the patterns.
The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. —2 Timothy 2:24–26
Kindness is basic to Christian charity, but still elusive. Paul is describing a character trait—that our manner with others is loving regardless of their manner with us. Kindness is a way of living peaceably. But when you must argue, argue with a humble purpose. Pray that the distance between you and others would give way to the common ground of truth. Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit—meaning when we have to engage in confrontations—which we all do from time to time if we’re dealing honestly with each other—our aim shouldn’t be merely to blast our opponent out of the water. We should gently correct in the hope of strengthening our relationships in God’s truth.
Motives play such a huge role in healthy relationships. When you find yourself not liking someone else, what motivates you in your relationships with them—avoidance, hoping for a fall? Paul tells Timothy to correct his opponents with gentleness in the hopes that it will bring them to repentance.
May our diligence in the gospel be an outworking of the grace of Christ and our confidence in Him.