September 18, 2011

2 Timothy 2:14 Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.

I had not previously underlined this verse in the Bible I’m using now, but it strikes me that many if not most of the Church splits over the centuries at the very least involved words and their interpretation, even if that wasn’t the central issue. Paul is saying that hair splitting destroys, it doesn’t build up, and it must be dealt with strongly. Also, the verse starts with the instruction to be persistent and consistent in teaching. We human beings tend to forget! We need to keep reminding ourselves and each other of the great, glorious truths of the Gospel, or the pressures of the world and our own weakness will get us to acting like we’ve forgotten them. Whereas I can certainly understand the frustration of the writer of Hebrews, that his readers needed the basic truths all over again, (Hebrews 5:11-6-3) such truths must not be forgotten, and any teacher of the word should keep touching on them regularly. However, this shouldn’t have to be from the pulpit all the time; believers should be reminding each other as circumstances present opportunity.

I sometimes feel my sermons are just replays of things I’ve said before! That isn’t surprising, considering how long I’ve been in ministry, but I must neither resent it nor give “canned” messages, because I always have a mix of those who should have heard before and those who perhaps have not heard. At the same time, considering how much the Lord blesses me through repeated reading of the Bible, I should trust Him to give my hearers fresh insight even if they are hearing something they’ve heard several times before. On the issue of quarreling over words, I’ve had words thrown at me in the past, and I’ve done more hair splitting myself than I like to think about. At this point I think I am honestly on my guard about such things, and I have indeed had occasion to call believers down about word arguments. I must always do that gently and in love, but as firmly as necessary. I do not want the fellowship of the Body of Christ to be sacrificed for a shibboleth!

Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me be faithful as the shepherd You want me to be, feeding the sheep what they need as they need it, neither overloading them with sugar or spice, figuratively speaking, nor making it bland and uninteresting, nor giving them “food” that isn’t real nourishment. Help me keep my eyes on Christ, reminding myself of the fundamental truths, just as You were saying to me yesterday, so that I may be faithful and undeceived, as a good son and servant, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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