Summary: This message focuses on the importance of studying the Word of God for truth so that we are equipped to answer questions as we tell others of our personal message about our acceptance of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.
It’s Time To Grow Up Part 6
This is part six of my series, “It’s Time To Grow Up.” Last Sunday I shared with you that Paul told Timothy to take the Word of God and entrust it with faithful men who could take that Word and teach it to others. Paul told Timothy to remind the people of those things pertaining to Christ and to do so without arguing with them because those types of discussions are useless. If you have ever had a discussion with someone who “refused” to listen because they were more focused on what they had to say versus listening to what you were saying then you can understand what Paul was telling Timothy. I am sure most of us have felt this way at one time or another. When you left those conversations I am sure you thought about how much time you had wasted trying to have a conversation with someone who would not listen. This is the image that I see when I think about the direction that Paul had given to Timothy. These are the conversations that we often have with immature/baby Christians. There is always a “why” or a “but” to whatever you’re trying to help them to see. In some instances this is because they sincerely want to learn. However, in a lot of instances they already know what they think about the subject matter and they only want to hear things that agree with what they already believe. Any teaching that contradict their current beliefs if fought against. This is what Timothy was fighting against early in his ministry and why Paul saw fit to encourage him while also pushing him to stand firm.
In order to help Timothy build his confidence and be able to firmly stand on the Word, Paul told Timothy to “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) In the Greek, that word “study” means to “make an effort; give due diligence; be diligent; labor. To hasten to do a thing, to exert oneself.” When you do this, there are no Cliff notes or short cuts, just your sincere study of the Word to find the truth – regardless of how that truth exposes sin in your life. This type of studying is more along the lines of the research you would do when writing a paper to justify your position on a topic. A baby Christian does not appreciate this type of study because it takes time away from other things they enjoy much better. A baby Christian likes the Word in small doses with highlights of what they should remember as long as it does not cause too much change in their lifestyle. However, a mature Christian seeks the truth even if it means hours of study and having to change their current thinking because of the truths they are learning. This is the type of study that Paul was telling Timothy to consistently do so that he would never have to be ashamed when discussing the Word. The advice that Paul gave to Timothy is great advice for us also. Let’s examine this verse a little closer.
“Study to show yourself approved unto God…” When we study it is not to please man, but to be approved of by God as one of His workmen. Why is this important? It is difficult to expect that the Holy Spirit of God can continuously help us without our studying and praying. When we study we give the Holy Spirit something to work with. When we study we open ourselves up to be taught by Him. There is a difference between studying and meditating on the Word of God and reading it. Baby Christians read the Word occasionally, but mature Christians study it. Baby Christians read but do not always comprehend because they read in short bursts. They like devotionals because it contains one or two verses and it tells them what they should take from those verses. I am not knocking on those of you who read devotionals because at least you’re reading something, but those are daily snacks. If you really want to eat and get full, you need to study the Word. Babies can get full eating a small snack, but grow-ups need a real meal. As you grow, it will take more than a snack to sustain you. Mature Christians read the Word and allow the Word to change their life. Are you seeing the difference? As a pastor, Paul to Timothy to study to show himself approved before God. Let’s focus on the statement “approved before God.”
When we spend time in God’s Word we grow and mature into someone who can truthfully represent God. Representing God and being approved of by Him is not always about how many Scriptures you have memorized, but how you are living them! When we study we are seeking God versus our own intellectual gratification! We are not studying so we can quote Scriptures to others to show how smart we are, we are seeking Him so that in time we can help others find Him. When we patiently and consistently study God’s Word we will continue finding truths as we continue to grow. I am still learning today so I can testify that the learning never stops! When you begin to understand and accept the truth you are able to verbalize it clearly and with confidence. Your solid foundation will enable you to never have to be ashamed. Paul said that a person who studies becomes “a workman that needs not to be ashamed…” Why, because they are “rightly dividing the word of truth.”