Hello, my name is James and welcome to this week’s Daily Podcast from STC Sheffield. A huge thank you to Liam Brennan who led some brilliant reflections on 2 Timothy for us last week. We got some detail from Liam at the start of last week to help us get into this letter. It is written by Paul, who is one of the early church leaders, who at the moment is in prison. It is not looking good for him. So Paul is writing to his young apprentice, Timothy. Timothy is someone Paul is training… so naturally it is full of spiritual wisdom but also really down to earth instructions… such as verses 23 and 24 that we are going to read aloud in a moment. Paul wants Timothy to come and be with him so he can pass on this important task of planting churches. Now before Timothy comes and meets with Paul, he needs to do one important thing before leaving Ephesus (near where modern day Turkey is), and that is to deal with the false teachers.
This is where we pick up the Bible story today and something of a theme running through the thoughts this week is: ‘truth.’ Today especially, some spiritual wisdom around how to live at peace with one another.
Let me read v22, 23 & 24 now – which lays out clearly some down to earth instructions of things we are to pursue and things we are to avoid as followers of Jesus:
“Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”
How plain and simple is that? God’s people should avoid silly arguments… what can we do about this today?
Well here is our advice to the church today. Connect, don’t clash.
We can always find someone or something we don’t agree with. An American Pastor called Craig Groeschel says, “We judge others by their actions while judging ourselves by our intentions.” It is so natural to focus on the shortcomings of others while overlooking our own mistakes. Let’s be honest for a moment, since the lockdown started there may be quarrels in our homes or we may be in quarrels online. It is my observation that people will say silly things from behind a screen in a way that we would not dare to do face to face. A bit like road rage. The internet calls these people keyboard warriors. In other words, when a given individual types faster than they think. On the other-hand, we may simply misinterpret someone and that causes a quarrel. I know I’ve made that mistake before. It is easy to mistake tone when we are not face to face.
Paul’s instructions are clear: do not join in with silly arguments as followers of Jesus. Instead be kind, and teach. And teach could mean, model something different. Live the better life.
Let’s continue with the Bible passage. Verse 25 says, “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth”. Let’s break this down as we invite God to speak to us through these words.
Firstly, lets look at the phrase “opponents must be gently instructed…” the Message version of the Bible puts this as “working gently and firmly” with those that don’t yet know the faith. It is not the first time this word gently gets added into advice on sharing the good news to those that don’t yet know. We may have read before in 1 Peter 3:15 that “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”. Gentleness is a consistent feature in the work of evangelism. Let’s be clear, this does not mean diluting the message of the truth, of who Jesus was or of his resurrection. But gentleness guides us in how this truth is applied to those that don’t yet know… and part of that application is picked up in that Message version… tell the truth gently and firmly.
Here is the great thing about gentleness and firmness. It keeps us from striving and make it about all about our ability or about how talented we are to persuade. “the hope [is] that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth”. You see that is the real hope that God
connects our efforts and leads people to knowledge of the truth.
And this is the hope for all the world…
This is the truth of what God did for you and me…
This is our hope that those who are far away with connect with God and be led into life everlasting…
So the spiritual wisdom and down to earth advice for today is: Connect, don’t clash.
Avoid foolish and stupid arguments and connect with friends and family.
Holy Spirit, we recognise that unity is critical for Christ followers. Help us to be kind today. To live the better life. Jesus, as we fix our eyes on you. As we read the Bible and pray would you guide our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
BIBLE READING: 2 Timothy 2:20-26
In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.