Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Inky and Kind


Paul charges Timothy to be an unashamed worker before God (v15). Otherwise known as, 24, 'The Lord's servant' or an instrument, v21, for noble purposes. There was a task to do, and it very clearly connected to God. Change happens through people. But how?

Handling the word (15)
Ah, an inky ministry. Not just coffee and conversation or tea and sympathy, but get the Bible open. What else were you expecting me to say! Working with students it's not my job to drink coffee. I read the Bible with people. Getting God's ink into your face, and into your heart.

How do you handle the word without being ashamed? Firstly, v15 – handle it rightly. Accuratedly. Of course, Timothy's content, his message had to be the sound doctrine of the glorious gospel of God. It had to remain as the apostolic gospel. 1v13 – the sound teaching. 1v14 - The good deposit. The word would have to be rightly cut. Straightly. Accurately. That looks like it walks straight into the clinical camp. Open Bible. Quick and sharp. Correct and rebuke! Sort it out.

And yet... and yet... watch for the sprouts. Timothy is in danger. Danger of, v16, quarrels among others... and v24, he too should not quarrel; instead he must be kind. What we see is that unashamed ministry is INKY and KIND. Actually the more you look at this part of the letter it seems Paul's not so much concerned with the false teaching but with Timothy's heart.

Timothy might be tempted to become a spiritual surgeon performing amputations on the people of God. Paul wants something else for him. More than just tea and sympathy, but also more than scriptural sword-fights. Belief and behaviour always go together. The way Timothy handles the people of God and the way he handles the Word of God will reveal his heart.

The unashamed worker needs to beware of youthful passions, v22. Which isn't so much rampant youthful sexual sins as arrogance. The youthful mindset that sees everything in black and white and loves to pick a fight. Loving 'foolish and stupid arguments'. The heresy hunting youth, in whom a little knowledge is dangerous. Observe it when the Christian's first response to a talk is to identify what the preacher, despite his preparation, study and experience, got wrong. Self-righteously furious at bad teaching but unconcerned to humbly study for themselves. I've been that unteachable Christian, have you? I left a church a few years back partly because of a number of practical and theological issues, but also because of my own unteachableness.

A little knowledge is dangerous. Youthful passions are ungodly and should be fled. Everyone believes what they think is right, else they would change... will we take time to understand one another carefully, able to articulate others beliefs in their own terms? And then at last responding. What is the antidote to youthful passions?

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