When you go to a doctor for an injury that requires stitches or begins to scab the last thing that they tell you as you walk out the door is to make sure you don’t scratch the itch. If you do, you will create a lasting scar and may prevent the wound from healing. There are some itches a Christian shouldn’t scratch either. Paul deals with one of those in today’s Scripture.
“For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.”
Tolerate the Truth
We are living in the days that Paul talks about here. People don’t tolerate the truth of Scripture and scoff at sound doctrine. If a pastor teaches from the Bible, people get offended. They search for those pastors who make them laugh and feel warm and fuzzy when they walk out. If the Holy Spirit convicts someone during a message, they don’t return. People get up and walk out in the middle of a message offended because the preacher got too close to home.
As a believer, you need to crave the Word of God. You should be comfortable with being uncomfortable in the pew. If your pastor talks about sin, you struggle with your reaction shouldn’t be anger but one of humble repentance. That means our heart is open to the Holy Spirit working on it. Too many people want to hear what they want to hear, and few places in Scripture are going to make you feel that way. Most of the Bible deals with peoples shortcomings and how God can fix them
Don’t Scratch the Itch
If you go to a church that doesn’t teach the Bible find one that does. I know that sounds abrupt, but I’m saying it for your good. Hebrews tells us that we should be maturing from drinking the milk of the Word to chewing on the meat. Where are you at on the Spiritual food pyramid? If you don’t have a pastor that wants to teach you the Scripture, he is doing yo more harm than good. The Word of God is living and powerful, and it changes our lives. Don’t scratch the itch to find something you want to hear.
All of us had a job that when we started, we got little to no training. We were expected to jump in even though we had no idea what we were doing. For most of us that is unsettling because we want to do a good job and not mess up. We are equipped for the work of serving Christ through the Word of God. Scripture is direct from God, and we profit from it when we apply it to our lives.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
As Paul is winding down his final letter to Timothy and the church, he gets into some essential doctrine. Scripture is infallible, which means that it is without errors and incapable of being wrong. The reason is it infallible is because it God speaking through men who faithfully wrote it down. This is essential for every believer to understand. We can trust the Bible because it is true and without error.
Scripture also plays an influential role in equipping the saint (that’s you). It teaches us, rebukes our sin, corrects us when we get out of line, and trains us for righteousness. It is God’s game plan for your life, and the Holy Spirit can lead to your read passages that apply directly to your situation even though they were written thousands of years ago. Do you use the Scripture as the light unto your feet and a lamp unto your path?
Equipped for the Work
As we are equipped for the work of the Kingdom, it is transforming our faith. Scripture works from the inside out. It starts in our heart, then it transforms our mind, which in turn motivates our actions. We profit when we allow it to do its work on us. What’s the return we get? That we may be complete. Does your life feel like it is missing something? Let the Word of God influence your daily walk.
My wife and I go round and round about how much light we have on in the house. She likes very little light and prefers the soft glow of a table lamp. I am the exact opposite — the more light, the better. We’ve been married for 22 years, and it’s easy for you to figure out who wins the argument. I always joke with her to come into the light. She’s not buying it.
“Who among you fears the Lord and listens to his Servant? Who among you walks in darkness, and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord; let him lean on his God.”
Out of the Darkness
This is a really cool section of Isaiah because it is the Messiah, Jesus, talking to us. He starts by asking, “Who fears the Lord and listens to his Servant?” God the Father is the Lord, and His Servant is His Son, Jesus Christ. He is leading His people out of the darkness into the light for more on this read, John 1. Jesus is urging His followers to have faith, and when times get tough to lean on Him. Does that challenge you today?
Obedience is a frequent theme in the Bible. When Israel was coming out of Egypt, just after God parted the Red Sea, He told them that if they obeyed Him that they would prosper and the plagues of Egypt wouldn’t happen to them. You will never go wrong when you follow Jesus. When we do, we walk in the light, and it becomes easier to trust Him.
Come Into the Light
There are too many Christians who want to go to heaven when they die but live in darkness while on earth. Jesus is very clear here that if you follow Him, you do not walk in darkness. Those who walk in darkness love their sin more than they do the light that Jesus brings. Come into the light. Repent of your sins and get away from those dark areas in your life that cause you to sin and become an active participant in your church.
Being a pastor is the best job in the world. I love doing what I do, but that doesn’t mean it is easy. Some days try my patience. If I didn’t trust in the presence of the Holy Spirit, I wouldn’t have made it this long. People will test you in ways you never imagine. Leading with patience is essential for any leader.
The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth.
The Lord’s Servant
When Paul talks about the Lord’s servant, he is mainly referring to those who are Pastors or in leadership, like Elders. He is instructing Timothy on how to respond to difficult people. In the church in Ephesus, Timothy was battling a group of people that were challenging his leadership. Paul, in his two letters to Timothy, is constantly encouraging him to embrace his role as the leader. Paul has appointed him, and God has confirmed it, so he needs to step up into his role.
A good leader is one who is gentle, patient and can teach those in his care. That doesn’t mean they are not going to have opposition. Paul tells us to instruct them with gentleness. The leader who likes to quarrel and is rude with those he leads will end up reaping what he sows. People will leave, and his reputation will have a hard time recovering. Being a patient and gentle leader can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit. When His fruit starts to grow in our life, we will discover that we are becoming more patient and kind.
Kill them with kindness
Leadership is hard. There are going to be people who get under your skin. You can’t change them, and you will drive yourself and others crazy fighting with them. Kill them with kindness. Paul says that when we do, it’s like pouring hot coals upon their head. Jesus told us to pray for those who oppose us. In doing so, they may repent of what they are doing.
In the story of David and Goliath, there is a point where Saul wants David to wear his armor. It doesn’t fit, and so David takes it off and then heads off to face Goliath armed only with his slingshot. David didn’t want to be entangled with armor that didn’t fit him. We need to break free from entanglements in our lives as well. There are so many things in our lives that distract us from what is most important. Today Paul encourages us to get rid of them.
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the commanding officer.
Paul uses a military analogy to speak to Timothy. The Roman army was prevalent in both of their lives. As Paul writes this letter, he is literally chained to two soldiers in Rome. The point he is trying to make is that in ministry, there needs to be a commitment like that of a soldier. When he goes off to war, there are no attachments to home that go with him. He did this so that he wouldn’t be distracted from his duties.
As a minister, Paul is telling Timothy that he needs the same commitment to Christ and his work. He is not to get entangled with the unnecessary distractions that life can throw at you. He is to remain focused on teaching the Word of God and ministering to the saints. The minister who is distracted is an ineffective minister.
Break Free From Entanglements
All of us would benefit from breaking free from entanglements. There are so many useless things that distract us from what is essential. Just as a soldier seeks to please his commanding officer, we should look to please Jesus Christ with our actions and words. Part of that is being bold with the Gospel and enduring the suffering that comes with standing with Christ.
As you might have noticed there was no devotional posted today. That is the first time in 135 weeks. After writing 675 devotionals over that time I need a brief break. Life with four teenagers and leading a church has caught up with me. Don’t worry, it will be a short break. I will begin posting again next Monday. Thank to all of you who have read it over these last few years.