Summary: The Bible gives us understanding of human life and relationships, it equips us for effectiveness, and it is the standard by which a church becomes great.
Why do we prefer to stumble along and do a job halfway, when, with just a little effort, we could do it well? Why is it that we will take a stab at something we don’t know how to do, .we will fool with it, we will mess with it, but, if it takes some study to learn to do it right, we’re not interested, we’re outta here? Why is that?
Last week my wife put in front of me a little alarm clock, designed for travelers. It was a thin little thing, about the size of a credit card, and it runs on one of those little watch batteries. It needed a new battery. Would I please get the old one out? Well, I took one look at the thing and knew instantly how to get the battery out. Four screws on the back plate; obviously, just take those out and the battery would be exposed. So out came the four little screws. But guess what? Inside there was another plate, a plate with circuits on it; the battery was visible at one end of that plate, but the plate too was held down with more screws. Did I have to undo those too? About this time, Margaret hovered over my shoulder and began to express concern about what I was doing. That’s what wives do, you know; it’s a setup. They ask you to do a job and then they tell you you’re doing it wrong. Now if they really know so much, how come they don’t just do it themselves?! I guess it’s all a part of what makes marriage interesting. Anyway, she said, "Do you really think you should take all that stuff apart? Isn’t there maybe a pullout here at the end of the clock?" "Pullout!" say I. "Whoever heard of such a thing? No, you always have to get into the back of these things to get out the battery." And so I worked away at the world’s smallest Phillips head screws, using the world’s dullest Phillips head screwdriver. No success.
Then I remembered that when I had taken the clock out of its case, there was a piece of paper inside. Just an innocent, nondescript piece of paper. I got that paper, and right at the top, in bold print, it said, "How to change the battery: grasp the pullout bracket at the end of the clock."
Ouch! Groan! And what is the lesson here? Some of you are saying, "The lesson is, listen to your wife." Okay, I’ll take that. But there is another lesson, too. That lesson is, "When all else fails, read the instructions." "When all else fails, read the instructions. "
For, you see, in life, all else will fail, if we do not read the instructions. It’s not really a question of IF all else fails; it is WHEN all else fails. It is because everything will fail, if you and I do not read the instructions for life.
God’s instruction manual for life is called the Bible. This book, which has lasted through many centuries, which has been translated into thousands of languages, is the best selling book of all time. It continues to be purchased and distributed all over the world. It is recognized, even by those who disregard its message, as the greatest of literary masterpieces. The Bible is unique. It is praised by nearly everybody. There’s just one thing wrong. There’s just one problem. The Bible is unread and unknown. It is not understood, it is not used as it was intended. It has not become our instruction manual for life.
For we prefer, as with everything else, to stumble along, making it up as we go, botching it. Why is it that we seem to prefer muddling through, when, with a little effort, with some study, we might live powerfully? When all else fails, since all else will fail, read the instructions.
For one thing, knowing the Bible will help us deal with the disappointments of life. Understanding what the Bible has to say about human nature, will empower us to be strong in difficult circumstances.
Paul, in this letter, is counseling the young Timothy to deepen his understanding of the Scriptures. And Paul testifies that the only thing that got him through some tough times, times when his integrity was being called into question, times when his intentions were being challenged ... the only thing that got him through those tough times was his knowledge of the truth. Paul speaks of having endured persecutions and suffering; he mentions three towns where folks rose up in arms and just about killed him. But Paul tells the young Timothy that he could endure that because he understood that some folks were deceived, some folks were ignorant, and that he found the Scripture is useful for reproof and correction. Reproof and correction.