The Path Less Traveled Final

Our walk on the path less traveled is not to simply gain knowledge for ourselves for the sake of gaining knowledge. It is to gain knowledge, tempered with wisdom, to pass on to those who desire it a deeper, much more personal knowledge of just who God is and what His word states.

 

Does God’s Church care about learning the deep things of God’s Word? I don’t know the answer to that question. For sure we are busy these days. We have jobs that usually require us to commute, political tensions, wars and rumors of wars. We have lots of distractions in the form of entertainment that vie for our attention and time. Where do we spend our time? Where do we invest ourselves? How we answer those questions tells the story of our desire to be be disciples of Christ and not just associated with Him.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15 NASB

There is quite a bit to unpack in these few words of Paul to Timothy. Let’s give this a shot and see what we need to do to be disciples – disciplined ones – of Christ.

Be Diligent

Paul begins with a command to be diligent. The Greek word here is spoudazoThis word means to proceed quickly, hurry, hasten or to be especially conscientious in discharging  an obligation. The second definition fits best with the context here in 2 Timothy. Think of the word zealous and you’ll have a good understanding of the word spoudazo. Getting a bit more technical, this context has it as an aorist present imperative. It is a command that, unlike the present active imperative, is expected to be done once. It also has the nuance of a completed task. So taking this all together, we have a command that is supposed to be completed and that thing to be completed is a basically a mindset. It is an attitude that we decide to have. But what are we to be diligent about?

 

Present Yourself

Our decision to be diligent is with the end being presenting ourselves to God. We are to be zealous to present – offer, or appear before – ourselves to God. That is our mindset. But this isn’t just showing up in front of God and saying “Here I am, God.” No this presentation of ourselves is with a caveat: as an approved workman who does not need to be ashamed. We are to show ourselves to God unashamed. We are to show ourselves as approved workmen. The word for approved is dokimos which has the idea of refinement having taken place. The verb for of this word, dokimazo, is also used of the process of refining silver to rid it of impurities. In that process the silver becomes more valuable and stronger because  the impurities are burned out of it under increasing heat.

This is THE picture I want in your head: a pot of silver bubbling over the ever-increasing heat of a furnace.

The silver is you and me. The heat from the furnace are the trials of life that put us under pressure. But  who is tending the fire? The master craftsman Himself – God – is stoking the flames. He is increasing the heat on use to purify us so that we can present ourselves to Himself as approved – having been tried, purified and sanctified by the flames and heat of His furnace. This is the meaning of dokimos.

The idea of approved here is just that: there is no chance of failure. When God begins the process, you will be approved.

Accurately Handling the Word of Truth

The final clause in this very important verse is a really neat one. It stresses why we should not be ashamed and why we are approved. It is because we accurately handle the truth. Now this word accurate is  an interesting one. The Greek word is orthotomountaElsewhere it describes a tentmaker who makes straight rather than wavy cuts in his material.That is interesting because Paul, the author of this letter, was a tentmaker. It can also mean a builder who lays bricks in straight rows and a farmer who plows a straight furrow.

So we gather from all these uses that it means to be accurate or straight with what we are doing. But are we doing this?

I’m saddened by what seems to me to be the most anti-intellectual movement in the Church’s history. Just about anyone with a computer, internet connection and a search engine can become an instant expert on all things biblical. Those who have worked diligently to understand the Word of God and the best way to study and interpret it seem to be cast aside.  This ought not be. Not all opinions are equally valid or authoritative. I’m sorry if this upsets you. But that is the truth. I would no more entrust my physical health to a self-trained “doctor” who read a few books on medicine than I would entrust my spiritual health to someone who read a few books on theology.

I’m all for Christians working through the Bible and not just accepting someone else’s interpretation of Scripture. But when a Christian decides that they know the Bible because they decide they know the Bible, well, that is just dangerous. If there is no one providing a check against a person’s bias (and we all have a bias) bad things can happen.

If we are serious about knowing the deep things of God we will be diligent to study. Being diligent means keeping at it when it is difficult. Being diligent also includes the idea of checking ourselves against those who know more and have experienced more. If we are serious about being diligent in our study of the word of God, we will zealously seek out those who have studied at a greater depth than ourselves. And if we are zealously seeking those who have studied at a greater depth than ourselves, then we will be working hard at knowing Him so that we may become a resource for another.

Our walk on the path less traveled is not to simply gain knowledge for ourselves for the sake of gaining knowledge. It is to gain knowledge, tempered with wisdom, to pass on to those who desire it a deeper, much more personal knowledge of just who God is and what His word states.

 

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