Today the pastoral advice keeps on coming for Timothy, and it’s another exhortation that we can all apply.
15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Earlier in chapter two Timothy was encouraged to have a hard-working attitude, and here today he is encouraged to do your best. The idea that the Christian life is one of passive agreement and being along for the ride is found nowhere in God’s Word.
Being approved and having no need to be ashamed carries the idea that on the day we stand before the judgement seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5.10), what we have done for and in the name of Jesus will be laid out and evaluated. Paul writes this to the Corinthians,
…we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Simply, we are to do our best in the here and now so that when we stand before the judgement seat of Christ and our work is evaluated we have no need to be ashamed. For Timothy, his primary responsibility as pastor is to rightly handle the word of truth.
To be told to rightly handle something implies there is a wrong way to handle it, and this must be the primary responsibility for Timothy, for a pastor today, and for all of us who claim to be following Jesus. There are right ways to handle, divide, and interpret the Bible, and there are wrong ways. Sadly, we don’t have to look far to find people twisting, misusing, misinterpreting, sensationalising, emotionalising, and just plain wrongly handling the Word of God.
Simply, it says what it says and it means what it means.
There is one correct, orthodox way to interpret a passage.
There is one correct, orthodox interpretation, yet many applications.
Sadly, some feel that there are many interpretations and many applications, but this cannot be. The Word of God cannot say two things in one passage that are contradictory.
David Guzik writes on this,
This is an important point: The Bible does not mean just what anyone wants it to mean…We can’t just pick the interpretation that seems most comfortable to us and claim it as true – it must be rightly dividing the word of truth, and it must be consistent with what the Bible says in the specific passage and with the entire message of the Scriptures.
So for Timothy as pastor, this was a primary responsibility. Shouldn’t it also be so for all of us? Shouldn’t we all want to be approved by God, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, someone who rightly handles the Word of truth?
If you don’t know where to start with Bible interpretation, here are a couple of books that have been helpful for me.
- Basic Bible Interpretation by Roy Zuck
Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible