2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
What does it mean to be one approved? I believe that many have taken this out of the context of the whole passage and have preached a works oriented doctrine for Christians. It is easy to look at this passage and feel you have to earn your way to be approved by God. But if you look at the whole context, Paul gives examples of what it takes to be approved and conversely, what it takes to not be in favor.
Earlier in vs. 11-13 he talks about dying to live, enduring to reign and keeping faith. These are traits of one who follows the gospel of Christ. This is not necessarily a checklist, but a set of traits that should show up in the life of one who follows God. Later on in vs. 22 he encourages Timothy to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace. Combine all these qualities and you have a set of character traits to be lived. When I am living out these qualities, I am living in accordance to God’s will and therefore living as one approved.
Furthermore, one who is approved is a workman in the kingdom. This person is a servant and a worker for God. Walking hand in hand with this work is knowledge of scripture. Not only is knowledge required but also a correct handling of the word of truth. Satan even takes scripture and twists it to fit his deception. We must be knowledgeable of scripture and its proper use as well as its proper context. There is a delicate balance between taking scripture out of context and using it as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states, “All scripture is…useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”
Some traits listed that we assume would keep one form being approved show up throughout this context as well. In verse 12, if we disown Jesus, he disowns us. Quarreling about words (vs. 14) becomes a barrier to God’s use of us. Possibly a hidden negative trait is within verse 15. We are not to be ashamed of our work in God. Do we hide our work at times due to some sort of shame in our lives? Finally, Paul spends three verses of explanation of godless chatter (vv. 16-18) and its result.
The challenge for me is to live the traits that show me approved by God and not use those traits as a checklist. Of course, if I were using them as a checklist, I believe that the truth would seek me out. I would be living by law and not by spirit. If that is the case, my workmanship for God would not be successful. I also must avoid the pitfalls of a quarrelsome attitude and godless chatter. These seem somewhat benign on the surface but are deeply damaging to the Christian walk.
What does it take for you to be able to present yourself as one approved? What traits are you living and what traits is a checklist for you? What do you need to rid yourself of? “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
1. Have you been a person who lives these traits or a person who used these and others as a checklist for “approval”?
2. Explain your answer to question 1.
3. What are your weakest traits to live out?
4. Which of the negative traits has the strongest grip on you? Explain.
5. What changes are you willing to make in your life to live these positive traits more fully in your life?
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