Study to show yourself approved

What’s on my mind tonight is the power of God’s Word, and the responsibility we as believers have to hold it forth as life to a lost and dying world.  Are we holding it out or are we offering other human philosophies in the place of God’s life giving Word?

 

English: Detail of a desk after studying.

English: Detail of a desk after studying. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Study to show thyself approved of God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth.” (2Ti 2:15).

 

I love the concept of studying… taking time to read, assess and grow in both knowledge and understanding of the word of God, revealed in written form.

 

Study, the greek word spoudazō (σπουδάζω) is an active word that tells us to endeavor – to pursue, to do diligence with.  The idea means there is a labor involved.  Studying involves time spent, the willingness to learn, to follow hard after, to grow stronger.  

 

Studying has always been both a joy and a challenge.  As a child the time spent studying was sometimes half hearted because i wanted to be outside running and playing with other kids.  As an adult the idea of studying is both a serious and determined action.  It is a choice to pursue learning, working out my understanding, and laboring over the process.

 

But what is the reward of studying?  This verse tells us three benefits of studying:

 

  1. it is to be approved by God
  2. able to handle God’s word correctly
  3. no longer ashamed.

Approved by God- We all seek approval from some source.  Entertainers strive to receive the applause and recognition of their audience.  Doctors seek the approval and credentials of professional societies.  Waitresses seek the approval of their restaurant patrons so they can receive tips.  Each of us has been wired to look for approval… but there is only one type of approval that satisfies.  And that is the approval of God, the God who created us, knows us, and wants us to know Him.  As we study God’s word we begin to develop a deeper insight into this all powerful, all knowing and all wise God.

 

The word Approved in greek is dokimos, meaning one who is tried and tested in their faith, having integrity.  Like so many things in scripture, as we learn the real life circumstances that 1st century believers would have understood well the passage becomes very clear to us.  This quote from Donald Gray Barnhouse really opens the idea of approval or dokimos to us:

 

“In the ancient world there was no banking system as we know it today, and no paper money. All money was made from metal, heated until liquid, poured into moulds and allowed to cool. When the coins were cooled, it was necessary to smooth off the uneven edges. The coins were comparatively soft, and of course many people shaved them closely. In one century, more than eighty laws were passed in Athens to stop the practice of whittling down the coins then in circulation. But some money-changers were men of integrity, who would accept no counterfeit money; they were men of honour who put only genuine, full-weight money into circulation. Such men were called dokimos, and this word is used here for the Christian as he is to be seen by the world.” (Donald Grey Barnhouse, Romans: God’s Glory, p. 18.)
 

Our time spent studying will develop in us an integrity of God’s word, and integrity in our character.  As we grow and learn our faith will be tested… and it is through the trials and testing that we grow stronger in the Lord.

 

You will be able to handle God’s Word Correctly!  One of the first things I learned as a believer is that no one verse stands on its own, but that you must read the chapter, or the book to fully understand that verse “in context”.  There is an old story about a guy flipping through the bible, and finding one verse “Judas went out and hung himself”, then flipping again and coming across a completely different verse, out of context “And you, go and do likewise”.  This is an example of incorrect handling of God’s Word.  As we follow basic principles of context the passage begins to reveal the insight, the clarity, the purpose, the lesson.  In the KJV the words “rightly dividing” are a direct translation of the greek word orthotomeō which means to cut straight, or proceed in a straight course.  The power and depth of the treasury of truth contained in  the scripture come to life when they are presented with clarity, straightly.  

 

And finally you will not be ashamed.   Ashamed, or the greek word anepaischyntos means having no cause for shame.  Shame is a tough word – defined as the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous.  Shame is a result of not doing something right or correctly.  We all long to be praised and blessed for our actions and ways… 

 

In my 26 years of faith I can tell you that God’s word is where the power is… skills for living, having the mind of Christ, the knowledge of his character, his plan, his blessing, and his hope for our future.  In those same amount of years I have watched as the church, the believers of God have slowly allowed other things, thoughts, ways to creep into the sacred places that only God’s Word should go.  Knowing the power and wisdom that has come from God, how can we cheapen it with humanistic philosophy, pop psychology or any other number of “feel good” ways.  As workers we are charged to study so that we will be approved by God, not ashamed, able to present the Word of God in truth and clarity.

 

Here is the quick test:

 

1.  Am i spending time in God;s word, laying out my thoughts before the Lord, seeking out wisdom from the bible, and direction from those who have been believers and are known to handle the bible with integrity and straightforwardness?

 

2.  Am I having any feelings of shame?  If so, where is this coming from?  Am i shorting my study time in favor of worldly pursuits?  Confess this to God, and repent – turn away from doing that.

 

3. Do i handle the bible honestly, fairly and within the context of which the passage is written?  Do i take the time to research, understand and adequately explain the passage?

 

4.  Am i allowing philosophy, guided imagery, psychology and worldly thoughts to overshadow God’s Word in my life?  Repent, confess this to God and turn away from such vain philosophy.

 

The Word is sure, powerful, sharp and life changing.  When you have the opportunity to hold out something to others, study, and then hold out God’s Word in power, truth, honesty.  This is our mission.  This is what we have been called out of darkness to do.  The world is slowly dying, in need of the hope and truth we posess. Will you open your hand and share His Word with someone today?

 

Prayer – Lord, here am I, one of your children, called by your name, lead by your spirit, yielded and hungry to be filled by your Word, that I might be a worker for your glory.   Please open your word to me today, that I might be able to study and know your truth.  Please show me how to live with your word held out as truth and a beacon for all to follow.  Lord I yield all other philosophies to you and ask that you would cleanse your church, your bride, from the pollution that is humanistic thinking.  Take the shame of wrong studying, misunderstanding, and dillusion away from me now, and may I yield only to your Word and your Spirit.  May you continue to give us your light, your truth and your hope.  Amen

I yearn for those days when God’s word was the central and driving force of our lives, and the Church was powerful in the wisdom and knowledge of Scripture.  I am frankly saddened by the pop psychology, the feel good fluff that is gaining popularity. Time is short, and we are all like the grass of the field.  Our lives are here today and gone tomorrow.  But we can share the eternal word, and know that even the words of the bible will go forth, accomplishing what God would do with them.

 

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