“Building Up the Body: Worker-to-Worker” is a series of church worker wellness devotions. Visit lcms.org/wellness for more resources.
by Stephen J. Carter, a teacher of the “LifeLight” Bible study series for 15 years.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)
The apostle Paul, near the end of his ministry as he lies chained in prison and faces execution by the Roman emperor because of his faith in Jesus and bold Gospel testimony, writes to the young pastor Timothy about the ongoing responsibility to be faithful.
He loves Timothy and is counting on his Gospel ministry to prevail in a hostile culture.
The whole letter tells the truth about God’s power, Satan’s attacks and the Gospel message in the sacred Scriptures.
Paul also writes for you right now in your ministry.
Ministry can seem like a long haul. There are so many forces in the world, in your congregation, and within our own hearts that seek to lead those in ministry astray and discourage our efforts to be faithful to the Word of Christ.
Another translation of 2 Tim. 2:15 passage reads:
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (KJV)
The Greek word for study means to be zealous or eager, take pains, make every effort.
Paul suggests that being “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed” calls for continual and painstaking effort on the part of those in ministry to “rightly divide the word of truth.”
The ongoing task of preaching or teaching the Word, as well as sharing and caring through the Word, in the local church is a challenging one.
Certainly, learning the Word as we grow, studying the Word alongside doctrine in college and/or seminary, lays a good foundation for faithful ministry.
However, Paul is writing to Timothy as a young pastor already engaged in ministry. He suggests that ongoing study is necessary.
Growing in the Word of Christ and its application to our own lives and the lives of the people we serve is a lifelong charge.
How easy it is for busy workers to become exhausted in ministry, involved in keeping schedules and appointments, putting out fires in the classroom and the parish, preparing and meeting budgets and many other duties.
The Gospel for ourselves can be neglected. Workers can run dry spiritually and lose the focus on Christ alone for salvation and as daily bread for each day’s problems.
God’s daily resources through Jesus Christ are readily available for you personally and professionally.
Lord, thank you for Paul’s words and also his example in ministry he shares with Timothy, and he shares with me. Help me remain faithful to Your Word each day and give me grace and guidance in the ongoing responsibility to be faithful. You are the savior of many, including me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
For further encouragement, the author recommends reading 2 Tim. 3:14–4:8.