Cut it straight ∙
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15
2 Timothy 2:14-17
14 Remind everyone about these things, and command them in God’s presence to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them.
15 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.
16 Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior.
17 This kind of talk spreads like gangrene . . .
People who are professional sewers often have exceptional skills and years of experience. Successful sewing does not begin with needle and thread. Rather, it begins with the fabric to be sewn.
The importance of mastering the art of cutting the fabric straight cannot be stressed enough. An improper first cut can result in total catastrophe. Fabric sections that are supposed to match, instead wind-up being different lengths. Seams can be twisted or uneven.
The material must cut on “the grain.” The fabric must be squared up and the weft must be identified. The weft runs perpendicularly on the selvage. The warp runs perpendicularly on the weft. You simply pull a line of thread on the weft and then one on the warp. This will create two straight perpendicular lines to follow.
All you need to get started is the fabric of choice, a plan or pattern to follow, and a cutting tool such as scissors.
The apostle Paul was a tentmaker by profession (Acts 18:2-3). It was his day job. He had mastered the art and skill required. Tentmaking was not for the faint of heart. Neither is handling the word of God or taking responsibility for explaining it to others.
Paul admonished Timothy to rightly divide the word of truth. The Greek word translated rightly divide is orthotomeo. This is an old tentmaking term that literally means to cut straight. To rightly divide fabric requires preparation and making straight cuts. Is all about accuracy and precision. The word of God needs to be handled similarly. This refers to expounding accurately or teaching correctly. It refers to the act of handling correctly the word of truth when it is taught or expounded (UBS). There is no room for poor cutting, slipshod work, guesses, opinions, or laziness.
Any child of the King that takes upon themselves to study and research the word of God so that they may share with or teach it to others assumes an awesome responsibility. It is not for the faint of heart. Yet, each of His children is obligated to share His truth with others.
Reflect for a moment on the teaching you provide others or the teaching you receive, is it just “good enough?”
Paul is saying, “good enough” is simply not good enough.
James 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
REFLECT & PRAY
“Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well” (Philip Stanhope, 1746).
Father, thank you for the wonderful and excellent teachers you have provided me over my lifetime. May I do my best when I prepare and share the magnificent truth found in Your Word.
The Father sets the bar high, exceedingly high. His standard is excellence. Do you suppose that the Father would have given us such a high standard if He did not fully intend for us to measure up to it?
In our somewhat haphazard, slipshod, “good enough,” “what does it really matter,” culture we should be delighted to have a standard of excellence to aim for.
Rather than being discouraged, be encouraged. Excellence is doable. It takes focus, time, dedication, and practice. We stand or fall before the Father. Ultimately, our goal is His approval for our efforts.
So many things in life are opportunities that the Father provides for our growth and development. His tests are never intended to condemn us. Rather, they identify where we are and what steps of action we need to take to improve. The goal is His approval.
The Greek word translated approval or stands the test is dokimos. It describes things that have passed a test. For example, when a clay pot is formed, it must pass the test of fire. It is put into a kiln and fired. After some time it is removed and examined. If it has no cracks, it is approved for service, was stamped dokimos.
Our goal is to hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23).
How exactly are we to do this? Paul lays it out for us. He provides do’s and don’ts.
Paul exhorts us to be zealous and work hard. The Greek word translated be diligent, work hard, is spoudazo. It focuses on the effort that it takes to achieve excellence. It means to be diligent, earnest, eager, zealous, make every effort to do one’s best.
We are to avoid meaningless disputes fighting over words and avoid worthless and foolish talk.
There’s a strange thing about foolish and worthless words. They spread like gangrene. They are very similar to gossip. Too many people love to hear them and to share them.
21 Like charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious person to kindle strife.
22 The words of a gossip are like delicious morsels; they go down into a person’s innermost being.
For the Father, the accurate handling of His word and explaining it correctly, are of extreme importance. Each of the Father’s workers will be either approved or ashamed. Be diligent, work hard, and make every effort to cut it straight.