Commentary by Walter Albritton
Grace enables us to do our best as Christ’s workers
2 Timothy 2
Key Verse: Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15
Truth is more precious than silver or gold. God has revealed it. We are free to embrace it. Once we understand truth, and accept it, we have a sacred responsibility to pass it on to the next generation. God revealed the truth to Paul. He passed the truth on to Timothy.
Timothy understood this concept. He knew the debt he owed to his mother and his grandmother for their godly influence in his life. They taught him the gospel when he was a child. Then as a young man, he met Paul who led him to faith in Christ and loved him as a son. Years later, as Paul neared the end of his journey, he implored his dear son in the faith to pass on the truth to disciples who could be trusted to pass it on to others.
Twenty centuries later, we should tremble with gratitude because generations of faithful men and women have passed the truth on to us. We are indebted to an endless line of disciples who endured persecution and hardship so that we might know the truth.
What was the secret of those faithful disciples who passed the faith down to us? Paul gives the answer in his instruction to Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Grace was the strength of our ancestors, and grace alone can make us faithful workers for our Lord. We cannot succeed in our own strength. We need supernatural help, and that Christ gives us when we trust in Him and Him alone.
Our culture is much like that of the first century. Faithful men like Timothy were ridiculed and persecuted for proclaiming God’s truth. That is why Paul warned Timothy to endure hardship like a solder. The church then, and now, is engaged in a war with evil. Soldiers in an army often suffer in trying to defeat the enemy. As soldiers of the cross, we can expect to suffer also.
Satan, our ancient foe, is not dead. Our world, like Martin Luther’s, is still filled with devils who “threaten to undo us.” They hate the truth and teach gullible men to believe that absolute truth does not exist. So effective have these “devils” been that most Americans no longer believe in absolute truth. They have embraced the lie of “situational ethics:” truth is whatever we want it to be in any given situation.
Yet God’s truth does not change, and it cannot be chained. Truth is the power of God “let loose” in the world, and it cannot be silenced no matter how hard rebellious men may try. In a sense, when we “break” God’s commandments, we actually break ourselves. Unless we embrace the truth, then, our destiny is the brokenness of ruined lives.
This being true, it is imperative that Christians study diligently the truth and learn to teach it effectively. People who believe lies rather than the truth are living in darkness. God’s people must care enough to lead them to the light. When Christians rely on the grace of God to do their best, the Spirit can open blind eyes and change hearts. Since the truth is not chained, it has the power to awaken the slothful and persuade them to embrace the One who said, “I am …the truth.”
Paul reminds Timothy that he can become the kind of teacher who is not ashamed of his work. We can also. The key is to care more for God’s approval than the approval of others. One way to do this is always to ask the Spirit to enlighten us as we study God’s word, and to turn a deaf ear to the changing moral values of our society.
There is no excuse for sloppy, careless teaching, and the people who listen to us deserve always our very best. The gospel is not boring, and we who teach it should seek the Spirit’s help to make our teaching exciting. We must never settle for a mediocre presentation of the greatest news the world has ever received! The good teacher will plead with the Spirit to release the power of the word as the truth is proclaimed. We are never well prepared to teach until we have studied, and prayed, earnestly asking the Lord to use our teaching to change, challenge, and encourage our listeners. We do our best teaching when we have inwardly digested the scriptures and then share not the lesson in the quarterly so much as our hearts.
Be sure of this: we will suffer if we attempt to live as faithful workers of Christ. Satan and his demons will try to stop us. Yet in Christ, we, like Luther, can refuse to tremble before the Prince of Darkness, knowing that “his doom is sure,” and that Christ Jesus will “win the battle.” Though our way Home will not be easy, grace enough is available to us, and we can rejoice in knowing that we are on the winning side!